Just a “Run of the Mill” Church?

cropped-white-background-NICOC-LOGO-REWORK.pngDue to a variety of web issues our web site has been offline for the past few months.  John, who volunteers his time as our in-house IT expert, has repaired and remodeled the web page and asked if I would be willing to write a message explaining who we are and what makes our congregation so special or different.  I said “Sure, I think I can do that.”  However, getting started proved to be a more daunting task than I imagined because we seem so ordinary, like what many might describe as just another “run of the mill” church.

The definition of “run of the mill” is something ordinary, average, or undistinguished in quality, character, or nature; not special or excellent.  That doesn’t seem like a good term to use to describe something you want to promote.  It almost sounds insulting, yet we seem so ordinary in so many ways.

We have an older church building that’s like so many others you might see.  It’s located in an older working class neighborhood…..nothing special about that. We have Bible classes for the various children’s grades as well as the usual adult class in the auditorium…… just like most congregations.  Our services are taped for a TV program, but lots of churches have TV programs.  We have mission outreaches in up-state New York, Mexico and a few other places.  Mission programs are fairly common in other congregations.

Our worship service typically begins with announcements, a short meet and greet time, a prayer, a few songs of a cappella singing, communion, the collection, a short sermon that will fit into the allotted time slot for the TV program – wait…..now that’s something special – short sermons…and a head start on the Baptists and Methodists who create those long lines at the restaurants.  But was that all that made us special?

I wanted to come up with a ‘WOW’ impression that would be both welcoming and also emphasize why we want the new web site to serve not only those in our own community but also via the internet, connect with people throughout the world and hopefully in some small way, help them have a better relationship with Jesus.  What words could I use to dress up our “run of the mill” church to accomplish that task?

The reason I was struggling with this assignment was that I kept focusing on the external features of our congregation, but when I stopped to think about it, I realized how God has always used “run of the mill” people like fishermen, tax collectors, tent makers, sheep herders and transformed them into a special force powered by the Holy Spirit to change the world.  Here in New Iberia, Louisiana, He is using oil field workers, mechanics, house painters, school teachers, salt miners and welders.  He has brought us together in New Iberia to love and nurture each other and strengthen our spiritual relationship with Jesus Christ.  With the technology of the internet and cell phones, he is giving us new power to help proclaim throughout the world, the good news of Jesus.

I realized that I was often being inspired and encouraged by what outwardly may seem like “run of the mill” people engaging in “run of the mill” church activities.  Like Jerry and Melisa a young couple who always sit on the pew in front of us and who, just by their cheerful presence and faithfulness inspire me.  People like Chad and Sonia whos’ young sons will often read the scripture before the sermon, song leaders like Kim, Carl and Charles (with his left handed director’s beat).  There’s brother Conroy who will use his booming voice to make 1st Corinthians 11 come alive for communion.  There’s the gentle giant Harold, who stitched the cushions, sanded and refinished the damaged pews the congregation couldn’t afford to replace.  There’s Carol who will e-mail us when a member needs ours prayers.  There’s Carolyn, the official hugger, who will catch you at the door after service and send you on your way with God Speed and a sweet hug.  There is Toby who manages the sound system, Brandon who operates the TV camera, Dwayne who maintains the buildings and grounds.  Our preacher is a former truck driver who went back to school to get the tools he needed to preach and now holds a Doctors degree in theology.  God has turned him into a great preacher and excellent Bible scholar with an exceptional command of Biblical languages.  He can pack more useful knowledge into those short sermons than most preachers can in twice the time.

There are so many other people just doing “run of the mill” things that keep our  congregation going. Even though some of us  are still struggling to overcome worldly problems, we are a congregation of forgiven sinners. God is not giving up on us and we are not giving up on each other.  God is actively molding and transforming us into his useful tools….tools that can be used to share the good news of what Jesus has done for us.

Our God is no “run of the mill” God.  We serve a majestic, powerful and creative God who is also merciful, loving and forgiving.  A God who deserves to be worshipped and glorified for the way he works in each of our lives and for the grace with which He erases our sins when we fail. God is continually transforming us into the kind of people He wants us to be. What makes us special is this great God we serve and his Spirit that dwells within us. Our worship of Him can’t be confined to the external things on which I had earlier focused.  Though they are important to facilitate the times when we fellowship and worship together, our real work is to make sure our worship never ceases at the end of church service.  We’re working to make sure each day we live, our lives are lived as living sacrifices for Jesus who loves us and who gave himself up for us.  We hope you too, will join us in that effort.

Please enjoy our website. You are welcome guests.

God bless you,

Bill