Monday, February 11, 2013

Little Church, Big Impact

In the swirl of decadence, injustice and false religion which marks modern America, what can one small, relatively poor church congregation from the inner city do? 

Well, they could hide in the sanctuary and hope the bad guys won't bother them if they're quiet and manageable. Or they could close up shop and let their folks slide into entertaining modern churches where the definition of "missional" emphasizes cultural compatibility.

Or...they could emulate the model of Faith Bible Church on the near south side of Omaha. For though this congregation is small (40-70 in a Sunday morning service) and is representative of a wide variety of backgrounds, levels of Christian maturity, education and life experiences, etc.,  this is a congregation which takes the Bible quite seriously -- studying it, applying it personally, and promoting it in the general culture.

Thus you'll find in Faith Bible Church high-level expository teaching of the Word of God from the pulpit and in Sunday school classes, in the AWANA club for neighborhood youth, and in Bible studies held in homes, the church gym and a nearby high-rise apartment building.

You'll also see outreach efforts from the people at Faith Bible Church which involve several types of mercy ministries to people in the neighborhood, summer barbecues and block parties, a weekly open gym night, Good News clubs for kids, summer camp, film events, Christmas caroling, visitation in nursing homes, and the generous sharing of their building and resources with a Hispanic church.

And, for a church located in a poor section of Omaha and with a congregation of very limited means, the financial situation is wonderfully healthy. It is notable that the church doesn't pay salary and benefits for a full-time pastor. Instead they utilize the services of an older Christian who, though experienced and dependable as a Bible teacher, fills the pulpit as a perennial guest speaker. (And stability isn't a concern either; he's done so for more than 5 years.) This practical agreement, along with the fact that the building is paid for, helps free church funds for other important things like a generous support of mission activities here in the U.S. and in several other countries.

Another testimony of the congregation's commitment to live out their Christian faith in the public square is the participation of a remarkable percentage in events like the annual Walk for Life in Lincoln, neighborhood cleanups, petition signings, visitation in nursing homes, the annual Life Chain, and quarterly letter-writing parties.

Principled, prayerful, persistent, and practical -- Faith Bible Church may be just a little church but the job it is doing in living out Christ's kingdom is very big indeed. And yes, you're cordially invited to join us in our adventure.

Postscript: One of those quarterly letter-writing meetings occurred at Faith Bible Church just last night. While the Spanish-speaking church was using the gym and the main kitchen for a celebration dinner (3 years since its founding), about 17 people from FBC took Sunday school space in the basement to spend 90 minutes writing letters. The targets included church missionaries, persecuted Christians, the Military Religious Freedom Act, the Boy Scouts, de-funding Planned Parenthood, Nebraska LB 300 (a 4-D ultrasound right to know bill), thanks to Hobby Lobby, protests to the Carol Wright company for including sex-themed articles in unsolicited "family" catalogs, Russia's ban on American adoptions, Valentine's Day cards for nursing home residents, etc.

By the end of the evening, those Faith Bible Church letter-writers had penned almost 50 Valentine's Day cards and over 70 letters! Like I said -- little church, big impact.