Most everyone who was raised in the church and who has been involved in more than one church most likely can identify what is his or her "favorite" church. Perhaps it was your childhood church ... or the one you attended during your teenage and single years where your faith matured ... or maybe the one where you first responded to the Gospel ... or perhaps the one where you were married ... or possibly the one you settled into after getting married. It could be a large church with great facilities and much to offer or it could be a small family-oriented church where the biggest events were the church-wide meals. Maybe it was the church where you were able to boldly serve and use your gifts or maybe it was the church where you could remain anonymous. We all have certain preferences, likes, dislikes, experiences, etc that cause us to label something as a "favorite."
I think I'm figuring out which is my favorite church, and it's one I've never attended ... it's not even in this country ... it likely isn't even formally established anymore. It's the church in Antioch that Luke refers to in Acts 13:1-3. Not only was it a spiritually vibrant multi-ethnic congregation, it was a "sending" church. And they didn't just send their leftovers (those who were essentially useless to their work there in the city), they sent their very best folks - Barnabas and Saul (Paul).
This church obviously had tremendous faith! Could you imagine such spiritual giants being a part of your church family, enjoying their amazing teaching / shepherding / leadership / wisdom / encouragement / etc, and then telling them to leave because you believe the Holy Spirit has another work for them? How heartbreaking ... yet how exciting!!! This is what makes this church in Antioch my favorite church - they were willing to send their best and believe God is sufficient for their church's continued health and well-being. Our natural tendency is to cling to stuff, refuse to let go of it, live in fear if something we value is lost, lack faith in God's sufficiency, and complain when change takes place. But the church led by God's Spirit is one that rejoices in opportunities to send workers into the harvest!
My 2nd favorite church is Community Presbyterian Church in Moody, AL. And I love it for the same reason ... it's a sending church that has sent her best folks away to other works. First consider some of the former staff here at CPC who, in a sense, were sent to be involved in amazing ministries in other locations - Craig/Jaime Childs, Scott/Laura Puckett, Mitch/Jawan McGinnis, Tom/Linda May, David/Laura Balzer, and others. Consider, too, the list of families from CPC who are presently on the mission field - Paul/Dana Jennings, Steve/Laura Morgan, Trace/Ginger Donahoo, and Derrek/Lauren Webber. These aren't CPC's leftovers ... they are our best families! And now we're about to do it again. On Feb 10th Michael and Michelle Davis will board a plane and head to England to serve as missionaries. How heartbreaking ... yet how exciting!!!
We have one more opportunity to benefit from Michael's preaching before they leave. Michael will preach at CPC this Sunday from John 4:1-42. Please read this text prior to Sunday and come ready to be fed, both from God's Word and at the Lord's Table.
And then on Weds night, Feb 4, we will enjoy a special time to "send" the Davis family with a meal and prayer. Come that Weds night to a church-wide supper; bring a main dish and some sort of side, salad, or dessert. We'll start at 6:15 with the meal and conclude with a time of prayer for the Davis family.
I trust this will help make Community your favorite church (or 2nd favorite) as well.