The younger man who was first to share wanted to thank the church for their caring in providing a place for a family memorial service. “Like every family, we have some who don’t care much for church. But they came and I heard many of them talk about how nice it was that you did this for them and about how good the food was.” Even the relative who pretty much hates preachers and religion said regarding the eulogy, “It was awesome.”
The middle-aged man shared how his wife was just leaving the building after printing up bulletins on a Friday when someone in a white SUV pulled in and asked for money because a pregnant woman with diabetes needed to get to a particular hospital eighty miles away in Topeka. Our bulletin printer called her husband and he told her “Send them back over here to my office.” He put out of his mind concerns about lies and swindles and gave them fifty bucks. Two weeks later, just when he was about to leave his office after a long day at the end of a long week, a white SUV pulled into his parking lot. “Great,” he thought, “I just want to get home and they want an insurance policy.” A really big guy and a small woman carrying a newborn baby got out of the SUV and came in. “We just wanted you to see the baby that you helped get to the hospital in time to be born.”
Then the elder in his eighties shared how he’d come to church for two or three months, thinking about how much the preaching needed to change. “It wasn’t what I wanted;” he explained, “It wasn’t how I wanted it to be. I thought if the preaching was different, we would grow. And so I was coming to church with a hard heart. You can’t get nothing out of it when you come with a hard heart.” He paused for just a few seconds, noticed that the corners of his eyes had started to cloud a bit. “And then Doc started preaching on submission and I realized, ‘I’m the one that needs to change; I need to submit.’ And so… I am.”
And then, the outspoken woman sitting near the front asked the pastor for permission to also speak. She stood and confessed that she, too, had wanted the preaching to be different. “I even invited the pastor to lunch and told him how I wanted the preaching to be. But we’ve been studying Ephesians on Wednesday nights and we’ve studied about submission. And I know that he’s right; God wants us to submit. And I am, too.”
When a church focuses on serving, on making the most of every opportunity, whether it’s giving someone a ride to the next town or hosting a hundred strangers for a funeral service, that church experiences a transformation. When a congregation begins to repent and confess its sins and submit to God, it becomes a changed church. This is called revival.
In the words of the first young man, “I think if this church keeps serving people like this, it’s going to be huge.” Even if it doesn’t gain a single new member.