I read a great post by Don Johnson recently about service in the local church. He contrasted the “ivory tower” of ideals and innovations with the simple and seemingly unimpressive quiet faithfulness of local churches everywhere. As a minister who is certainly in a church context that presses the boundaries of normal, a church context more like the house churches that Johnson is contrasting himself with, I hear his words in a new way after these past two weeks.
As my grandma’s health declined this past year, it was the local Presbyterian church where my aunt and uncle are active members that ministered to her regularly, through visits at the care center where she lived, times of prayer and scripture reading, communion, and encouragement to her family. My Grandma had stopped being active in the church for many of her later adulthood years, and it was the ministers of this church and the chaplain of her residential community who gently embraced her and joined with God’s spirit in renewing her heart’s trust in God.
My grandma would likely never be on the radar of a house church or “missional community” like mine. But she was considered a vital part of the ministry of Knox Presbyterian Church in Spokane, Washington; she was someone’s priority there, while she likely contributed nothing to their church’s growth or vibrancy in the terms we tend to think in when we talk of those things. As I sat at her memorial service and listened to the minister share about his times visiting and praying with her, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the faithfulness of this pastor and the church that released him for such vital, missional ministry.
We have things to learn from the Knox Presbyterian Churches in our midst.