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October 20th Weekly Meditation

Weekly Meditation "Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain." (1 Corinthians 15:58)     Recently I came across a startling article that claimed as many as one in four churches could potentially close because of the corona-virus pandemic (with apologies I cannot find the source of where I read this at this time). One in four. The reasons given for the possible closures were the financial stresses, as giving in most congregations has declined, along with a loss of active membership as people fell away from the church. The increase in online worship could also weaken members connection to the church itself. After all, it is easy to say you will watch the service later in the week, but then the week goes by and you tell yourself the same thing next week.     While larger churches are facing the same challenges, the article noted that smaller churches are the most vulnerable. Smaller churches tend to have fewer financial reserves, live closer to the financial edge, and have fewer options for cutting expenses. Maintaining old buildings that are larger than needed is also a challenge faced by small churches. Many of the churches that close, the article stated, will be smaller congregations.     Having served and studied the small church for 27 years, my first thought was that the authors have underestimated the resiliency of the small church. Small churches simply survive. They survive loss of pastors, loss of members, loss of income. They survive depressions, recessions, natural disasters, and local tragedies. Small churches are resilient, mostly because they have to be in this, 'bigger is better' world.     Small churches also survive because their ministry often exceeds their size. Small churches tend to serve small communities and neighborhoods where they provide important services to the people around them. Small churches host food banks (and the occasional non-food bank), and clothing closets, they serve free meals and provide a meeting space for community groups. Many small churches are anchors in their community, especially for the most vulnerable.     Small churches also survive because of relationships. Everybody knows everybody, and the people love and care for one another. When someone is hurting, prayers pour forth, cards are sent, and ministry happens. The small church will rally around one another in a time of need because that is what small churches do.     I know that not every church will survive. I have already heard of some that will not reopen their doors, and I am sure more will follow. Will it be one in every four? That I do not know. What I do know is that God has blessed us in this small church with a strong history of survival, a vital ministry to our community, and a gathering of people who care for one another. What the future holds is up to us and what we choose to do with the blessings God has given us.We know that, as Paul wrote, in God our labor is not in vain. Worship This Week Thursday, October 22, 6:30pm, North Room Sunday, October 25, 10am, Sanctuary and on Facebook Live (In-person worship, inside. Masks required and please act responsibly) This Week: Keeping God's Vision Alive Keep In Prayer: Don Long, Alvin Shelley, Dee Kuhlman Our shut-ins: Kate Shelley, Dot Ann Smith, Nora Smith, Helen Payne

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