As I go to speak at a “small” church in Fairmount, Indiana, this AM….and as I think about the great worship that’s going to be had in Girdwood later on, I think this is appropriate.
This post by Jared Wilson at “The Gospel-Driven Church” gave me chills. It’s entitled, “Our Church Isn’t ‘Cute'” and made me think of all the times we’ve had visitors say that about our building was “cute.” It’s a little 90’x90’ building with a port-a-potty outside. So, maybe it is “cute.” But it’s so much more than just that word. It is, after all, a place where the Gospel is read and proclaimed and people are married and buried and baptized. “Cute” is such a shallow word for what really goes on in that place.
I usually don’t post something in entirety, but I’m doing that here. Please go check out the thoughts of Pastor Wilson at his blog or go buy his book, “Your Jesus is Too Safe” (which I just did after finding his blog).
But read the post below. It’s for anyone who’s ever been in a small, but powerful church. It’s good. Very good.
“Oh, it’s so cute.”
The photo is of the building in which Middletown Springs Community Church, the church I pastor, gathers each week.
The quote is something I’ve heard several times — that or something like it — typically from friends and family hailing from some steamy portion of Six Flags Over Jesus where church buildings are indistinguishable from office parks or the galleria.
Our church is “cute.” Because it’s small, old, traditional. “Cute” is the backhanded compliment for those who’d never go to a “cute” church, but want you to know they admire it and perhaps even those who aren’t privileged enough to go to a church “successful” enough for a building that is big, impressive, full-service. You know, not cute, but rather “awesome.”
But our church isn’t “cute.” It’s beautiful like a bride both blemished and perfect.
Our building is just a building, but it has stood for over 200 years on the stony soil of the oldest part of our nation, the land of Christian pillars Whitefield and Edwards, of the Great Awakenings, of Puritans and patriots, of Green Mountain Boys and hundreds-of-years-old family farms. The building is just a building but it has weathered over 200 years of harsh Vermont winters, not to mention pastors strong and weak, congregations passionate and passive, spiritual ebbs and flows of Old Testament proportions. Once upon a time the church kicked out Joseph Smith‘s secretary for heresy.
Our building is just a building, but it’s not just a building. It’s a symbol of the enduring evangelical presence, small but hearty, in this least-churched state in the nation, and of the endurance of the great salt-of-the-earth people who are the church that gathers in the building for which they’re called.
The gates of hell will prevail against espresso bars and KidzTowns. But not our church.
Our church is not cute. It is epic.