Tag Archives: churches

Large Blessings Often Come in Small Packages


I’m still pondering a column my brother Gene wrote for the Amarillo Globe News over a decade ago.

Gene begins: “Can I be honest with you without leaving the wrong impression? Can I share one of my most constant concerns without making you think I am airing sour grapes or criticizing your choice of churches?”

My short answer to him would be, “I doubt it.”

Oh, I agree with him completely, and I think he’s right on target. But I’ll betcha he made some folks mad. Some who didn’t understand him. Some who did.

Gene continues: “For more than 40 years I have ministered to small congregations that never seem to have enough people to fill some high-need categories.

“If my church had three or four more young families, we might have enough toddlers to make Bible study fun for Ethan.

“Right now our music minister would almost kill for a tenor or two, . . .

“Small churches always have gaps in age groups and abilities. . . . In most tiny churches just a handful of new people would make a huge difference in that congregation’s sense of well-being and vitality.

“All of this makes me wonder . . . I wonder why so many Christians who love the Lord and his church choose to cluster in huge churches where their talents may not be used or needed.

“I wonder if worshipers whose voices get lost in the multitude have any idea how much their notes of praise could enrich the worship experience of a smaller band of believers.”

Do those who make a church choice largely based on what the huge church can do for them “have any idea how rewarding it could feel to know that their personal contribution to the life of a smaller church was making an obvious difference in that church’s ability to serve the Lord and his people,” perhaps even to exist?

“I praise God for the large, active congregations that bless our community. But in my pastor’s heart I have a passion for family-sized churches . . . If you are looking for a church, let me encourage you to find one that really needs you. Think small.”

Folks, in my little great community, all of our churches are small compared to the Walmart Supercenter-style super-sized churches of many cities. I’m thankful when churches of any size, including mega-churches, truly serve the Lord and serve well (but I confess the utter disgust and revulsion I feel toward some large churches who do their best to ravage small ones and do so devilishly in God’s name).

Large churches can offer whole catalogs full of programs. Little churches can never match those.

Unless you want to know for sure that you matter. Unless you want your presence, your energy, your time, your treasure, your talents, your family, to make a genuine difference. If you want to be loved intensely and be blessed immensely by relationships, real and deep and worth more than gold, you might be very wise to think small.

I have days when I think that surely in this hemisphere some people exist who still believe that. On those days, I’m greedy enough to hope that our little church gets both of them.


    You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!



Copyright 2014 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.



It’s Not Necessary To Be Catholic To Pray For . . .

Well, color me surprised!

I went home at noon to get a sandwich; what I got was a ringside seat at a historical moment.

I don’t need 24-hour news, and I think our world and our society in particular would be better off without the endless repetition. We talk too much anyway.

But I’d flipped on the TV for about 24 seconds worth of news, just to see what was being endlessly repeated at that particular time.

As it happened, I’d turned on the tube about five minutes before the exact moment when the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI officially went into effect. With millions of others, I watched as the Swiss Guards, for centuries the official guardians of the Pope, stood down and, for the first time in 598 years, a Pope actually resigned.

It’s not necessary to be Catholic to recognize such a moment as hugely significant and historic.

And it won’t be necessary to be Catholic to find what is now beginning, the process of choosing a new Pope, extremely interesting. Along with a good bit of the world, I’ll be watching for the right color of smoke!

It’s not necessary to be Catholic to consider Pope Benedict’s decision to lay down his position and his duties because of his belief that he could no longer perform them at the appropriate level, selfless and impressive.

It’s not necessary to be Catholic to pray that the cardinals now charged with the task of choosing a new Pope will do the job well. May they choose a humble man who will wisely lead the over a billion Catholics under his charge and, by so doing, bless lots of other folks, even Protestant pastors in little West Texas towns.

It’s not necessary to be Catholic—in fact, you can be Protestant like me, which simply means that you “protest” some of the teachings and practices of the Roman Church even though you love many friends who are Catholic—to pray that the sovereign and holy Father of us all will use what is happening in all the world, including the fascinating bit of history being played out right now in Rome, to bring about His glory and further His purposes for all who love Him.

I guess I’m “protest-ant” all the way through, because I see plenty to “protest” in my own tradition, along with a boatload of stuff in modern American mega-consumer religion. Perfect “church” is not a choice in this fallen world. Surprise.

It’s not necessary to be Catholic to pray that many learn from and be blessed by the selfless action of rare leaders, religious and secular, whoever and wherever they are, who choose to lay down power and authority for the good of those under their charge, rather than to hold onto it at all costs.

And if you think Protestant churches don’t desperately need an influx of just that kind of leader, and if you think churches of every brand under the sun haven’t seen more than their share of power plays and could benefit from a big dose of the kind of humility it seems former Pope Benedict has displayed, well, then the new pope won’t be Catholic and chickens have lips.

No, it’s not necessary to be Catholic to pray for God’s will to be done “on earth as it is in heaven.” I figure “earth” includes Rome.


 You’re invited to check out my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!


Copyright 2013 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

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