I am the Pastor of a church that has been meeting for worship on Sunday mornings for about 5 years now. We still consider ourselves a new church. We are dually aligned with the Southern Baptist Convention and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. You will see why that is important later.
One of the issues (there are many, trust me) for a new church plant is a physical meeting place. We are now in our fifth one. We were in a place that had been home for a few years. We had grown comfortable there.
Then the problems began. Without going into a lot of detail, we started having a serious problem with the roof leaking. Leaking may not be the right word. When it rained ceiling tiles came down. I have heard some people say they are afraid that if they went to church the roof may fall on their heads. If they visited our church, it just might happen. On top of all of that, we received word that our monthly payment to lease the place was going to go up significantly. There are a lot of economics involved in the decisions that I still don’t understand. But, for our part we knew it was time to leave.
The problem was; where could we go? We had grown over the last few years, which eliminated most of the spaces that were available to us before. We had just started doing a second worship service. We wanted to be able to continue it. We prayed and looked.
In the odd sort of way that God seems to work, someone who attends our church said something to someone who attended another church who said something to someone else. Before I knew it I was talking with Beth, the pastor of the local Methodist Church. As things have worked out, last Sunday we started sharing space on their campus. Imagine that! Two churches from different denominations sharing the same space to worship the same God and working together to make a difference in the same community. It is enough to make you shout!
Not only were we invited to share space with them, we have been warmly welcomed. On our first Sunday, there were signs everywhere with balloons welcoming us on the campus. Our hosts have already been a blessing to us. I hope we can be as big a blessing to them.
I am writing this because I want to brag a little. Not just on the two churches, although I am very proud of the attitude and spirit that is among both congregations. Mostly, I want to brag about a God who really is bigger than denominations and differences. I believe God is the one responsible for bringing all of this about.
We are learning that we have so much more in common than we often think. Our differences really are pretty minor. We use a little more water than they do. One of my favorite movies is “A River Runs Through It.” (The book is even better.) There is a line from that movie that says, “Methodists are just Baptists who can read.” Maybe that’s it. We are separated by so little and called together by so large a mission.
My faith in Christian community and people going out of their way to help others has been renewed. We are gaining new friends and getting to know some people we are going to share heaven with someday. I am excited.
How ‘Bout Them Methodists!