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Weekly e-Gram for members and friends of Dublin Community Church

July 3, 2009

The Newcomer

The first thing anyone says to me when they find out that I am a minister is… “How big is your church?”

I’ve never been asked, “Is there a good spirit in your church?”

I’ve never been asked, “Is the congregation relating well to one another?”

I’ve never been asked, “It can be a challenge to follow the life of Jesus, can’t it?”

It usually begins with “How big is your church?” and ends with “So, are you growing?”

Americans are pretty “bottom line” when it comes to religion. Grow. Add. Increase. Build. American Christians are in a race to see who is the biggest and best. Big is good and bigger is better. And granted, we in Dublin Community Church get caught up in this whole thing too; and frankly, if we did not work to increase our membership and programming, we would soon find ourselves being passed by. I personally am a part of the problem and the solution.

So, having established that, it is necessary to say that being a big church can often times mean that some wonderful things are happening to and for its members. Large churches can tailor programming to help the spiritual and social needs of the community. That is certainly wonderful. Somewhere in the midst of “bottom line” decisions and “spiritual” solutions there is a balance. For every story of working hard to increase membership and income, there is a simple story of church people demonstrating the message of Christ to one another.

Recently we had a youth activity. I was looking forward to it. It was well planned and well attended. We had a new kid joining us for the very first time and I wanted him to feel welcome and included. So I went over to a couple of the boys who are close friends with one another and I laid out the situation. I asked them to greet the new boy and include him in on the car ride and the day’s activities. That can be a daunting thing for 12-year-olds. But the one said, “Sure, we can do that!” His friend said that he himself was “pretty good at meeting new people.”

I thought to myself, “I think they get it.” I thanked them and walked away.

Five minutes later I noticed the two boys whom I spoke to, introducing themselves to the newcomer. A third boy of our group was also there and he introduced himself too and shook the hand of the newcomer.

They all climbed into the car and later in the day I noticed a group of four boys going about the activities with everyone else.

That’s a simple story, and a true one. I have previously and will again, no doubt write about increasing membership and dollars and programming. That is what I do. But quite often the most vital stories of this church and of individuals doing what Christ would want us to do, well, those stories are right there in the midst of us.

Peace, Rev. Bob Tussing

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