We lost a couple more families at church recently, people who were very involved. Not only is it hard to watch them go, but it’s hard to fill the void they leave behind. And given that our church is small, and that those who contribute tend to wear many hats, that void is significant. We lack bench strength; few others are ready or able to step up.

Catalpa tree at the end of winter

For example, one departing member played the piano in our praise band, was an elder, chaired a key committee, and had recently began filling in as treasurer. Nobody else plays piano; the music minister will have to carry the praise band with his guitar. The man who took over this fellow’s other duties is quite busy already as an elder, chair of another key committee, and more.

I’m an elder in this church, too. I don’t normally bring it up because I wish to avoid anyone thinking I have achieved some higher spiritual plane or somehow have an “in” with God. I have neither. I’m bewildered that God has asked me to fill this role because I don’t think I can even stand in the shadows of elders I’ve admired. But I’m delighted that God wants to use me to care for this congregation.

Serving in this capacity only heightens my grief over this congregation’s condition. These members leaving has sent me into a bit of an emotional tailspin. It’s hard for me to imagine how we can keep our doors open when we’re losing muscle and bone. All of us elders want our congregation to be restored and to grow again. We think God wants to honor that. But we’re in bad enough shape that our efforts won’t be enough make it happen.

Catalpa tree in spring

We keep bringing up Judges 7, the story of Gideon and his army. God let Gideon know he was to form an army and go fight the Midianites, who had an army of 135,000 men. Gideon mustered just 32,000 men. But God whittled that number to only 300 soldiers and sent them out. Gideon and his army beat the Midianites – and with impossible odds like those, nobody could deny that God brought that victory.

We lean on this story for comfort and strength. It gives us faith that God will show us an amazing victory, too, one that can be credited only to him. My hope is that seeing God act undeniably to renew our congregation – dare I hope that many will come to know Christ because God has loved them through us? – will make all of our hearts beat wild with love for him.


6 responses to “Like Gideon’s army”

  1. Mike Roe Avatar

    Well, all I can say (quote) is…

    “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”

    He would certainly know better than me, but it’s my belief that it only takes one person gathered in His name.

    1. Jim Avatar

      At the rate we’re going, our congregation may have to test out your theory! Just kidding.

  2. overactivefork Avatar

    My prayers are with you and your church. I don’t know that “numbers” really impress God (when it comes to church growth), but as one who was raised in a fairly small church (but now attends a church with a membership of 1,400 some families), I miss the intimacy of being part of a smaller church family.

  3. David Avatar

    Indeed, your efforts alone will not yield the increase. But your faith in God’s desire to draw people to Christ through you will yield souls for the Kingdom.

  4. Steve Avatar

    The walk with God is never easy. If it is, something is wrong. Reading what you wrote brought Job to mind. Job lost everything to only be blessed time and time again.

    Many prayers go out to you and your church family.

    1. Jim Avatar

      Thanks, Steve!

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