I remember reading a book years ago called Strong Small Congregations. One of the joys of my sabbatical has been to visit different churches this month; I was able to visit a "strong small congregation" yesterday. I joined First Mennonite Church in worship here in Lincoln. I had met their pastor David Orr at a Lincoln area ministry leaders' prayer retreat last spring. I thought David and I hit it off and so I wanted to see his place of ministry. Yesterday, FMC had about a hundred people in worship and very much carried a "family atmosphere." We sang some sweet and even familiar hymns out of a Mennonite hymnal (one of Grace Chapel's favorites is "How Can I Keep from Singing?") and there was sharing time throughout the congregation regarding both prayer requests as well as general announcements. David did a nice job preaching out of the Gospel of Mark and there was a sense of vibrancy and community involvement as work in partnership with City Impact's "Gifts of Love" program, The Peoples' City Mission, and the putting together of Thanksgiving food baskets was promoted and encouraged.
As I worshipped at FMC, I thought a lot about my friend, Grace Chapel's former music director, Abel Sisco and his revitalization work in Ashland, where Abel is seeking to lead and shepherd First Congregational Church of Ashland to a place of health, self-support and sustainability. A couple of weeks ago, Tanya, kids and I enjoyed worshipping with Abel, his wife Misha and their family in Ashland. I thought that FCCoA could glean a lot from FMC as they pursue their revitalization effort in becoming a "strong small congregation."