Church Surch Week 29 Hagerstown Church of the Brethren
"...just as you did it to the least of one of these members of my family, you did it to me..."
Wow, the difference between last week's church (Crossroads Christian Church) and this one was the difference between...um...black and white. While CCC rocked with a congregation of over a thousand, HCB's entire congregation numbered fewer than the Crossroads' singers. 12.
The church resides in downtown, with a half dozen others scattered nearby. What attracted us to the church, of all things, was the sign. No, not a Sign, but their sign. 'Contemporary Service at 9 A.M.'
I arrived fifteen minutes early to see one car in the lot. A blind and deaf woman crossed the lot to the building. Seriously. "Good morning...Hello...Hello?" She plodded onward toward the front door. I finished changing from biker trash to wrinkled normal guy and wandered into the building, a rat maze, subjected to decades of remodels. Lights off in hallways. Finally I found the Fellowship Hall, and met Pastor Ed.
Ed's been the pastor for twelve years, a blink of an eye in a church that formed in 1894. Once the biggest Brethren church with a congregation of over seven hundred, a hundred people keep the doors open-somehow. Apparently the
Traditional Service draws a bigger crowd.
The faithful and the musicians showed up at 9 and we got right to worship. Four leaders, one singer, seven in the 'crowd.'
How depressing. Dean, one of the few, indicated it's tough to fill a church downtown. Like WalMart taking retail to the 'burbs, the church is apparently out of town. I don't buy it. I think the church has lost its mission, to seek and save the lost. Certainly there are people downtown with needs. Once again, it felt like a country club that's losing members and no one knows what to do.
We sang some camp like songs, then Pastor Ed preached on I Corinthians 12, we all have gifts, then Matthew 25: 31-40, what do we do with those gifts? Whatsoever we do to the least of these, we do to Him. Contrarily, whatever we
It's also Stewardship Month, meaning they talk about money. And this church is the opposite once again to Crossroads, where their pastor heard God say, 'One offering only.' This church has over fourteen different projects to raise money for various causes. So, time for a Rant:
What would the church look like if people tithed? The Mormons, that's what. I don't like their methods, but it is a rich church that takes care of people. What could the Christian Church afford to do if it had money? I speculate that we wouldn't need taxes so high. Huh? That's right, if the church took care of the poor, helped addicts, built hospitals, served widows and orphans, the government wouldn't need to. A dollar would go twice as far. So if people gave 10% to the church, we could save 20% on taxes. Because the government manages to waste money, I guess at a 2-1 rate. Okay, enough.
Here's a twist. Pastor Ed preached on reaching out to others, helping the poor and downtrodden, if you do it to the least of these, you do it unto Christ. At the conclusion of the service, I put on my jacket and said goodbye to the remnant. And no one invited me to Sunday School, or to hang around a bit. Was anybody listening?
If a church is over a hundred years old and has only a hundred people on any given Sunday, the place is on life support.
Hopefully God somehow, some way, can hit it with the paddles, "Clear!" and get it revived.