A sweaty, life-changing moment
March 5th, 2012
Sometimes, momentous occasions sneak up on you. A few weeks before Christmas last year, I was running on our elliptical machine, sweating like a
pig healthy woman, and watching “Burn Notice” on DVD.
Josh poked his head into the den and said: “How small is too small?”
He was referring to town size. We were in the process of looking for a new congregation for Josh to serve and he and I had somewhat different visions of what an ideally-sized community might be. I was thinking something like Pittsburgh. He was thinking something like Mayberry.
I didn’t realize at that moment that those five words would mark a turning point in our lives. I agreed to review the congregational profile of a small church in an even smaller town in Kentucky. Two months later, I’d agreed to move there.
I was just humoring my husband when I told him he could look at the profile. Small town Kentucky? Surely you jest. But then something amazing happened — we received their profile. And we both immediately knew that this congregation was different. Special.
I’ve looked at a lot of congregational profiles over the last few months. They usually come via email and they’re mostly pretty dry. Number of people in worship. Demographics of the congregation. Bland and/or unrealistic congregational goals like “triple our weekly attendance in the next six months” or “improve Christian Education programming.”
Country Church (as I’ll be referring to our congregation) sent their profile by mail, and it had supporting documentation. There was a multi-page visioning document, outlining some really great goals. Things like “offer free trips to the community pool to low-income families.” There was an introduction to the town which blended historical data with light-hearted commentary on the size of their hamlet. (Opportunities for night-life included high school basketball and counting the cars on passing trains.) There was life, warmth, and faithfulness seeping from the pages. This congregation was committed to each other, to their community, and to growing in faith.
Sure, the town was tiny. Sure, I was nervous about the school system. Sure, I was concerned about becoming a mixed-race family in a southern state. But, this is what I remember telling my husband – “If this congregation is what they appear to be on paper, we’ll work all the other stuff out.”
And they were.
And the other stuff? I stopped worrying after we visited. The town is tiny, but the sense of community is strong. The school system is actually great — award-winning, even. The congregation’s current pastor is an African-American woman and there is a family in the next town over who have adopted from Ethiopia.
I never thought I’d find myself chomping at the bit to move to small-town Kentucky, but that’s what change is all about. It’s not just about altering your location. It’s about altering yourself.