By Adam Faughn
That was the way a local news report from the state of Alabama promoted a fairly interesting story. A man from near the community of Semmes, Alabama constructed a church building--complete with a steeple--that measures just 4 feet wide, 5 feet deep, and 19 feet tall (including the steeple). He built the tiny chapel on his farm and said that several couples enjoy having weddings on his farm and look forward to taking some of their wedding pictures in or around the small structure.
I do not think I would want to be one to try it out, but he claims it can "comfortably" accommodate three people. The reason he built this very odd structure is that he has a lifelong dream of holding a world record, and he hopes to get this building certified as the record-holder for the smallest church of all time.
As a person with long legs, sitting in a building that small does not appeal to me. Besides the "comfort factor," though, the story itself had my mind thinking about the church itself. Certainly, I am not thinking of the building since the church is not a brick-and-mortar structure, but about the people, since they comprise this wonderful institution.
We often speak of the need to evangelize. To be sure, there are many reasons we should be doing that great work. One reason, simply stated, is that we are commanded to (Mark 16:15-16). Beyond that, however, we should desire to teach others about the saving work of Jesus Christ and about how He came to save each individual.
When people are saved, Scripture makes it clear that God adds them to the church (Acts 2:47). That being true, should it not be the case that we want the church to grow? Again, that is not saying that we want to build a larger building; it is saying that we want more people to be saved!
But...do we really want that? And do our actions back up that claim? It is quite easy to become comfortable with things the way they are. It is even easier to be comfortable with only teaching and welcoming people who look more and more like me, instead of being welcoming and encouraging to every person--since every person needs Jesus.
When I begin to only be welcoming to people like me, though, that "circle" becomes a lot smaller. If I only want to teach and welcome people who I feel comfortable around, that can become a very small circle. In fact, that tiny chapel in Alabama might be large enough!
Instead, I need to realize that, so long as we are holding fast to Scripture, there will always be personality quirks and differences of opinion, and I must be willing to look past those things and see a soul that needs saving. People will not be saved because they look like me or because they like the same things I like or because we share a common hobby. They will only be saved if I love them enough to take them to the Bible and show them what Jesus says about salvation.
I pray that I never get to the place where I would be okay with fewer people in the church just because it makes me comfortable. Instead, may we all pray that, despite quirks, personality differences, and times of disagreement, we all desire for every person to be saved so that more people are in the church and, ultimately, in heaven together.
"...Who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth"
(1 Timothy 2:4)