We were sitting in the arena seats, and the man in the spotlight spoke wisdom into the microphone: Every Christian needs a small group.
My husband’s smile stretched across his face, and he leaned over to whisper words in my ear: Our very church is a small group.
And my heart burned with Jesus-joy when I considered what we — our one small church — could do.
We don’t have to be big to change the world,
to save a life,
to be a friend,
to share the Good News.
We just have to be available.
For when God is our guide — and our glory — the work of one little body of believers can do great big things.
One + one + one + one. This is the multiplication of giving. And here’s how I saw it at work this weekend.
Our men took over the kitchen under the steeple of our country church. We women rolled our eyes when they playfully shooed us from the kitchen.
“This is man’s work,” they’d say while stirring the soup. We women would pretend to be offended.
Randy and Bill and Andrew and Les stood with ladles by steaming roasters of chili and chicken-noodle soup. They set out pink dining trays and soup spoons. The rough, gnarled hands of farmers and factory workers arranged banana-cream pie, chocolate brownies and angel-food cake in perfect rows.
My favorite farmer wore the navy-blue shirt with words screenprinted on the back: Go in Peace. Serve the Lord. And he served bread to the tables.
Our church men do this every spring, advertising their annual soup supper in the local papers, and the church bulletins and on the sign that they roll right into the middle of our town’s main street. (You can do that sort of thing in a town without stoplights or freeway exits.)
In years past, they’ve raised enough money to put mulch under our church swingset, build shelves in a closet, send a few kids to church camp.
But this night was different. Because this time, the crumpled bills dropped in the bowl wouldn’t serve our own. They’d give the freewill offering to another little country church congregation who is feeling the pain we once felt — pain that comes when fire consumes a house of worship.
Holy Scripture had the answer for the money dropped in the bowl: We were to comfort others, as we had once been comforted.
He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.
— 2 Corinthians 1:4
A fire destroyed our church on Nov. 21, 1996. By Christmas 1997, beauty had risen from the ashes of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church. That’s what one small group can do.
They built new walls under the direction of men like Jap and Les and Art — and twin brothers Helmer and Selmer, who are in their 80s (one is widowed, the other has never been married) and they find love of family under that white steeple.
So these men knew what to do when a country church near Viborg, South Dakota, burned down the Friday before Palm Sunday. They’d make the soup and raise the money and offer a word of Truth from one small group to another: With God as your guide, you can rebuild.
One + one + one. That’s what a small group can do.
For we know that our church is more than a building. It’s a people.
(Our men raised nearly $1,100 on Friday night for the church in Viborg.)
Do you have a story of how you’ve been part of a small group who’s experienced the power of one + one + one? Or perhaps, you’ve been on the receiving end. Would you consider sharing your thoughts in the comment box?