Thursday, April 19, 2007

“Joe Gatta’s is no more”

Jack Haberer (the Editor of Presbyterian Outlook) wrote an article called “Deli Church in a Supermarket World.” Haberer refers to a neighborhood deli run by Joe Gatta. Joe’s deli provided fruit and vegetables that came straight from the farm. Sadly, Joe’s deli is no more.

Norm has the best corn in Puyallup, Washington. Norm sells fresh corn from the back of his pickup on East Main Street (in August and September). I discovered Norm while visiting someone in the nursing home just off of East Main. I love corn-on-the-cob. The sign on the old truck read, “10 ears - $1.” What a great deal! I stopped and bought a dollar’s worth of corn. The corn was FABULOUS! I came to learn that Norm has a learning disability but grows the best corn in the area. Each morning he goes out to his field and cuts corn for that day. Norm has the best corn around. Sadly, Norm could stop selling corn and very few people would even notice.

Here’s the problem… it takes commitment to get corn from Norm. He sells corn in an out of the way place. Corn is all that he sells. Last year his corn was 6 ears/$1. I bought corn from Norm once last summer. With my limited free time I would rather go to the supermarket and do all of my grocery shopping than to make a special trip to get only one item.

The smaller church is a lot like Norm’s corn truck. Small churches are a dime-a-dozen (especially in the PCUSA). To survive it must provide a quality product. Our “product” is being Christ’s visible body in a particular location. That body provides opportunities for worship, discipleship, fellowship, ministry, evangelism and mission. If the small church does these things well it will survive and possibly even thrive. Not everyone is looking for a “big box” church experience—but any old small church just won’t do!

Like Joe’s deli, many of our Presbyterian churches should probably close. We celebrate when a believer “goes to be with the Lord.” We say that he/she lived a good life—loving and servicing the Lord. The person will be missed. It was a sad and happy day when my mom died. Mom dearly loved the Lord. Mom had dementia—most days she did not know who I was. It was a sad day the day mom died. It was a happy day the day mom died. We need to allow some churches to die—and then start a new, fresh ministry in their place.

Will all smaller churches survive? Some will—some won’t. Will Evergreen? Will the 30 or 40 smaller churches in the Presbytery of Olympia? Will the thousands of smaller churches in the PCUSA? I believe that it all depends on how well we go about being the body of Christ.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home