It happened like this one Sunday morning at my brother-in-law’s church:
Someone had taped a bright-yellow sign to the front door, with an apology to those gathering for worship: “Sorry. We weren’t able to find anyone to serve as greeters today. Let yourself in!”
The congregants shrugged, then opened the door, to step into their lobby. But where was the aroma of their usual morning coffee? A yellow sign on the coffee bar had the answer: “Sorry. We were not able to find anyone to serve coffee today.”
Foreheads knotted. Groans rippled through the room.
Congregants trudged into the sanctuary to find one more sign: “Sorry, we were unable to find anyone to serve as ushers. Please take your own bulletin.”
The bulletins — all of them unfolded — were stacked on a table.
No worship band played that morning. The pastor tried fiddling with the lights himself, and he also scurried around the room at offering time — one frazzled man with a basket.
They got the message.
We heard a similar message yesterday in our little country church, surrounded by corn fields a mile from our front door. A visiting pastor reminded our congregation: “Christ doesn’t send out an elite few. He sends us all.”
And surely, the pastor’s message was a reminder to serve as a disciple, to be Light to a world in need. But for me, it was a reminder of the old 20-80 problem. His message nudged me into thankfulness for the many people who faithfully serve.
So today, I say thank you:
To Art, who faithfully rings the bell at 9:30 every Sunday morning.
To Char, who prints (and folds!) our bulletins.
To Rosie, who pours wine into tiny little cups.
Thank you, to the person who replaces the toilet paper, stuffs the mailboxes, and picks up the Cheerios from the pew where my children sat.
Thank you to all the pastors, who all summer long, even when half the members were gone from the pews, still bent over the Scriptures as fervently and faithfully as they did when the church was packed.
Thank you to the teacher who taught my children the Apostle’s Creed, and to the silent server who cleans up the Quiet Bags.
Thank you to whoever takes out our garbage, washes the dish-towels, and locks up the church when Sunday service is over.
Thank you to the person who responded to the security call when I fouled up the security system, unwittingly setting off a series of false alarms when I left the building.
Thank you to the people who bring fresh flowers for the altar, fresh bread for communion, and a fresh word to the sanctuary.
Thank you to those ten men from our tiny church, all of these businessmen and farmers with slicked back hair, all of them wearing ties, who stood up front to sing the Lord’s Prayer. I was the one in the back, with a hand on the sound board and a single tear sliding down my cheek.
RELATED: This post, written for you, over at FaithRadio.Net … a reminder of your signficance in this world.
Who would you thank today? Share in the comments!
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Thank you to the organists who take time for practice and are faithfully there each Sunday.
For sure, Susan! Yes… My mother-in-law is often the organist in our church. We don’t always have an organ — maybe about 1/4 of the time. How about you? Always traditional? A mix of traditional and contemporary?
“Thank you to Evelyn”. The sweet older lady who softly and quietly moves about the foyer, seeking whom she may lift up, comfort, share a kind word with. She is ‘Jesus with skin on.’
I love Evelyn already. I want to be her when I grow up. Thank you for sharing Jillie.
Ohhhh, me too Jennifer! Me too.
Thank you to Karen, the church secretary, who pretty much runs the show from behind. She does this all quietly without fuss, fanfare, or expectation of thanks.
Those church secretaries are amazing, I tell you. Get them some capes, right?
I must agree with one of the comments above – Thanks to the organist and to the choir director who faithfully serve our little church without any salary but give their time like they were getting paid big bucks by the hour. When my children were babies, I so appreciated the ladies who kept the nursery during Sunday School hour so that I could go to Sunday School – and actually listen :0) I think most of us can agree with several of those servants you have listed, Jennifer! Thanks for recognizing those behind the scenes!
Ah yes … the nursery ladies. We don’t have a nursery in our little church. But we have Barb. She’s sort of a one-woman nursery. She grabs whatever baby comes into the sanctuary, and then proceeds to hold him/her through the whole service.
Nursery workers! And the people who think to get gluten-free crackers so all can participate in the Lord’s supper 🙂 And the ones (like my husband) who make sure the lawn is mowed.
Ah yes! Gluten-free crackers. I have seen some recent stories about how churches are making a better effort. I don’t believe we’ve done this yet. Must look into it for our congregation. Thank you for mentioning!
And yay, for mowed lawns! 🙂
I want to thank you, my beautiful friend, for the ways you share your heart so generously. Love you.
Oh Laura. … Loving you back. Thank you, sister.
Jennifer, this is a beautiful reminder that we are all chosen to serve the Lord, all things are important…especially the ones who make Sunday coffee for everyone. They are some of my favorites.
Thank you for being you and blessing me so greatly in your calling. ~Di
I think the people at the above-mentioned church would agree, on that morning with they didn’t get their coffee. Lots of groans in that room, according to my brother-in-law. 🙂
Oh wow, I would have to thank all my Sunday school teachers, I remember them all. It takes many behind the scenes volunteers to make church happen, and we all have something we can do! I would especially like to thank Mrs. Hieb because she let us walk to the park and gave us donuts for some of our Sunday school hours 🙂
Anybody with donuts deserves double thanks. 🙂
needed to read this today. i take way too much for granted….
Me, too, Kendal. Me, too.
As a person who helps a lot with the running of our church, I appreciate your insights that it takes a lot of people to get everything done. Many parts working together for the greater good. Each part combined with all the other parts doing bigger things than anyone could do on their own. The church body is beautiful when it works as it should. May God bless your thankful heart.
I KNOW you’re running your tail off, Angie. Thank you for all you do.
As a pastor’s wife, I can relate to this post. We have a small congregation but everyone has a part, even if it’s just attending. Thankful for my husband (the pastor) who not only spiritually feeds his congregation, but at times hauls away garbage, fixes pews, makes coffee and fills the voids. Thankful for others who are devoted. A church family is a body, when a foot or hand is missing, we really feel it. ~ Abby
Thank you, Abby, for adding your thoughts here. I should have thanked the pastors’ wives, faithful warriors in ministry. Grateful for you.
There are too many to list in this small box, but I would start with Ken and Dinah – who lost their only son (they lost another one 35 years ago), and who showed up to greet at the door and to set up the communion service the next Sunday, as usual, for the first Sunday of EVERY MONTH since I’ve been in that church – 16 years in December.
This one just gets me. Such dedication. Thank you, Ken and Dinah, for your dedication to the table of grace! God delights in you!
As a member of a small town church, it takes everyone to make it work. There’s no back up team….you are it! But, like Brother Andrew, we serve God sometimes in the small things….washing dishes after a potluck, typing the bulletin, keeping up the website. But, what joy in a small family church because you are truly a family!
We’re quite small, too, Cindy. I can relate to what you say. Our congregation is about 70-80 in attendance on a typical Sunday. I sometimes joke that the whole church IS my small-group, though we’ve grown a bit past a small group in the last couple years. So, I’m not sure I can say that exactly. We are definitely a family! Thanks for being here.
Man, what an eye opener… He indeed calls all of us. I’m thankful for that reminder today. It’s too easy to forget…
What an excellent message and what a clever pastor! We all need to do our part 🙂 Praise Jesus ! Have a fabulous day!
Love this, Jennifer. Being on of the 20%, I’ve often been overwhelmed and frustrated. I’m so thankful for those who do the unseen stuff:
stacking chairs, vacuuming, dusting, refilling pitchers, turning lights off and on…
Thanks for the reminder to show our appreciation.
We take so much for granted in our world. What’s funny? While reading a number of your church needs/situations, I realized my husband is the cleaner, mover, toilet paper changer, Cheerios picker-upper, and on and on. But in the past, people volunteered and got work done. Just the same as teachers used to be [Little House on the Prairie, for instance].
Anyhow, we take so much as a “right”… and there ain’t no such thing in reality. We’re just blessed. [Believe me, in Uganda it was a whole different world at church.]
Good thinking, good sharing.
When our church’s budget was slashed several years ago, we had to let go of our cleaning contract. Now? Everyone pitches in. Everyone has a place, and there is never a shortage of shoes to fill. I am thankful, too, for all who serve in whatever way.
This is great. I just posted something very similar, but it’s not as nice as yours. I was a little more aggressive. 🙂 I was a part of a small town church in Iowa for many years and everyone helped. But now I’m in a bigger church and nobody helps. There is no sense of community. My frustration was taken out on my blog. I’m so happy you are in a serving church. Please pray for mine.