This past January we had a fire in the attic of our classroom wing of the building. We have a sprinkler system in the building and the sprinklers went off in the attic and put out the fire. Thankfully no one was injured. Though the fire was out, the sprinklers kept running until the fire department arrived to turn them off. At 1:30 A.M. Sunday morning myself, my wife and one of our elders were at the building. It looked like a war zone. Water was pouring down all over everything and everywhere. There was not a square inch left unaffected by the water damage. We have been in repair mode since the last part of January. It looks like we will be back fully functioning the first Sunday in June. I was thinking about a few lessons from this experience.
First, please understand I am not opposed to Bible classes, but we have not had Bible classes for the past 5 months. We gather on Sunday and have our assemblies. Then, we come together on Wednesday and have an assembly together once again. Guess what? We have survived. Yes, we have actually survived without our Bible classes. Please do not get me wrong. Our Bible classes are one of our greatest appeals. We are ready to be back into our classes and with our teachers. While our parents are good to study with their children, this has intensified their need and responsibility. We need to be reminded that the local church is not responsible for the spiritual instruction children receive. Parents, we must always be vigilant about the spiritual instruction of our children. Even if there are no Bible classes, our children must still be taught the Bible at home. Parents, please, let’s never give our responsibility to spiritually instruct our children to the local church. Our bible classes can enhance the instruction our children receive in the home.
Second, no one has left. The congregation has stayed and pulled together. In the life of a congregation there are times of bonding, building and celebrating. Sometimes that celebrating comes as a result of bonding. Sometimes it comes along with building. How sad it would be that people would leave because of the inconvenience. Yes, there have been inconveniences. At times we have had no cry room available for parents to take their young children to. We have had room for mothers who are nursing. The people have been committed to one another to see this reconstruction to its completion. It is amazing what we can do together when we want to. Too much fussing and fighting comes because someone does not get their way. Well, in this situation there has been no way everybody is going to get their way. When people have the spirit of Christ, inconveniences will not divide. They will work as one for the good of all.
Third, I am not suggesting that having a building in which we can assemble is not important. But we need to remember the work of a local church is not about the building. It is about the people. Even though our building has only been half functional, the work of this local church has not stopped. Collectively, we have still assembled to worship. Saints have been edified by the singing of spiritual songs. God’s word has been taught with the same effectiveness as before. The Lord’s memorial has been observed each Lord’s Day. Our shepherds have still done the work of shepherding. Further, simply because our building has been impaired has not stopped individuals from studying with others. In fact, we have had two baptisms during this period of time. In our materialistic world, we need to be reminded that God’s work is about God’s people. Also, it is about helping those not His people, become His own.
Fourth, there has been no griping, complaining or internal strife. Everyone has used this as time to be a servant. The bathrooms have been extra crowded because the additional one in our classroom wing has not been operable. There has been a lot of dust. Now that it is all coming back together, there has been the smell of paint, stain and new carpet. We have some folks that are very sensitive. They suffer from asthma. One lady this past Sunday simply wore a surgeon’s mask. She came. She stayed. She worshiped. She encouraged. So what? Well a month ago she was in the hospital because of a lung infection that was the result of mold in her home. Yet, she wanted to be present. Don’t we do what we want to do? Yes, sickness is real and can be debilitating. I am not disparaging that, but we do what we want to do. It is usually the ones least able to do that encourage those who are healthier. We have streaming available for those who are not able to come because of serious issues. I am thankful we have that technology where they can still feel a part. However, I hope we never get to where we think because we have streaming, we can simply stay home and get our dose of Sunday rather than assembling with our brothers and sisters. Those who want to be present, but cannot, will tell you the streaming is nice, but it is still not the same as being there.
I hope we do not need to have another episode like this one to remind us of some really simple things we take for granted. It has not been easy, but we have grown together as we have worked through the process of having our building restored. The congregation is excited about resuming a more normal life in our coming together. Our first Sunday back to “normal” will be a day of celebration. In the end it is about the people and our bringing glory to God. He is worthy!