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Chapter 5. The Empty Church

January 15, 2010

The Empty Church

The large auditorium looked like it would seat about 450 people. The 24 year old pastor, his expecting wife, their 2 year old, and the pastor’s mother were the only ones in attendance for the first service. The crowd of three sat on the front row. Since there was no PA unit in the large building, the pastor plugged his cheap microphone into his guitar amp. His electric guitar provided the music and doubled as the P.A.. The pastor’s mom only got to stay a few days.

During the preaching the young mother had to take the toddler out. The new pastor finished his first pastoral sermon, preaching only to his mother, (who had taught him most of what he knew.)

Sometimes it seems hopeless to invite new ones. The previous members had all left when the former pastor did. The building had been empty for quite a while. Every door in the neighborhood that was knocked on, seemed unreceptive. The stigma of reproach against the church seemed impossible to overcome. The neighborhood seemed to hate Pentecostals. Besides that, the new pastor sang off key!

They busied themselves making peanut brittle in the church kitchen. Doing that seemed the only way to pay the $450 a month church note.They lived in the back of the church. The former pastor’s office quickly became a bedroom. Part of the fellowship hall was modified into a living room. It was furnished with purchases from yard sales and auctions. The mother-to-be, closed the kitchen door, and tried to take a bath in a #3 washtub as best she could. The church had no tub or shower. A vacant Sunday School room became a temporary guest bedroom.

The pastor’s 9 year old Dodge car wouldn’t go into reverse. He had experienced a reverse in his finances, but his car wouldn’t go there. The $50.00 sent every week from his parents, helped put groceries on the table.

They prayed that the Lord would send someone to help them start a church. They were ethical. They would never ask any one to come. They realized, however, that it would be wonderful to have some seasoned helpers in the harvest field.

A family friend asked the pastor’s father how the young couple was doing. The father said, “Well, they are living on beans and are taking baths in wash tubs. They have no saints yet, their car won’t run good, their living in unused Sunday School rooms, and they’re about to have a baby. They’re struggling! What’s sad is, they don’t know they are struggling. They are actually having the time of their lives!”

A soft knock on the back door of the church during their 3rd week, announced the arrival of a new family of saints that had moved into town. Their pastor 1,500 miles away had recommended they come to this church.  Hope smiled in the pastor’s face.

This is Home Missions!

Epilogue

The young pastor resigned, when his father got sick and went home to assist him. The Home Missions work was turned over to a more mature minister who left in 3 months. The small group dwindled under the leadership of a 3rd pastor in one year. The church was closed and the people moved elsewhere.

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