I had what I later described to a friend as “the most small-town-pastor-y of all my smalltown-pastor experiences so far” at a coffee shop the other day. It wasn’t one I usually go to; I didn’t recognize anyone, didn’t know if they were regulars there or first-timers, like me. But after I’d settled into a spot, surrounded myself with books and opened my laptop, a man approached me and said, “What do you do? I see you all over town.” I told him my role, and… he’s heard of us, friends. He attends a different church, but he had us pegged as “the church that does so much for the needy in this community.”

I shared with him a little about our various missions and outreach efforts, and that it is deep in FBC’s heart to be involved in offering what relief, comfort, and care we can to those who are struggling. And he said, “Yeah… I’ve heard a lot about your church. Most of it really good – not all, but most.” I bit my tongue and refrained from asking him to elaborate. But then he continued, “And you know, I think if there’s anyone that can lead this town through the trouble it’s having right now, it’s your church.” This time I did press for details. He said, “Your church has the spiritual grounding, and the Biblical understanding, and the relationships with people, already in place. I think that’s what’s needed to lead this town’s efforts to address these issues.” By “these issues” he meant issues surrounding homelessness, and he shared some ideas he’s seen work in other places. We exchanged information, promised to keep in touch. He wants to be a partner with us.

Maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that someone outside these walls has this perception of our church – we’ve been around for 152 years, and with our central location and historic connections, it makes sense that we take some leadership in this town. But it struck me as both an affirmation and a challenge to hear a total stranger name some of the gifts of this congregation – spiritual grounding, Biblical understanding, relationships – and then ask us to play a much-needed role. I wanted to share that affirmation and challenge with you all, and ask you, friends – what are we up for? 🙂

So blessed to be in it with you, Erika