Why I Enjoy Sunday Church Visits
For about half of my Sunday appointments since the beginning of 2021, I have been blessed to be with churches of less than eighty in attendance. Several of the churches were actually attended by less than fifty. I have thoroughly enjoyed being with all of them. Most importantly, I have made many new friends and have heard some amazing life stories from these pastors and their families along the way.
Recently, I was with a pastor that worked at Ground Zero as part of an emergency recovery team, arriving only 3 days after New York City’s Twin Towers were tragically attacked on 9/11. His wife was a part of the team also, working alongside him, rescuing, caring for, and providing food, as well as ministry, to first responders. On the day that so many remember during that tragic time, they were within a few feet of then-President George W. Bush. In past years, this pastor served numerous dignitaries and celebrities as a security guard. In addition, the pastor’s wife served as a key administrator and employee at the Austria Zoo, as well as the famous San Diego Zoo. But over the last few years, God has been using this couple to help reinvigorate a church that is over eighty years old. The church is seeing great growth as they provide a thriving benevolence outreach ministry to their community and preach the love of Jesus to hurting people in their small town.
I was recently at another church in which the Lord has raised up more than 20 pastors, missionaries, music ministers, and pastor’s companions. The morning I visited, there were probably 35 people in attendance. However, every one of them were people of heritage, dedication, and love for the harvest - and people that loved the Church of God. Every week they sing songs from the red-back Hymnal and teach out of the Evangelical Sunday School Commentary, all provided by Church of God Publications.
Just in the last few weeks I spent a Sunday with a pastor and his precious family that left me feeling I had made a lifelong brother and friend. First of all, we had a great service. The church reminded me of my old home church near Ft. Worth, when Dad would take prayer requests and make the weekly announcements.
At this church, it was the announcements that got my attention. Remember, this was another church of less than 80 folks. Every announcement had to do with something the church was doing in the community to reach other people besides those who regularly attend their services. Youth, children, schools, nursing homes, and more - and I emphasize “more.” Their community outreach was impressive.
The church facilities, as all the others I’ve been to recently, were immaculate. The building is almost 70 years old, but it looks brand new. Every building on the campus had a similarly attractive appearance.
I had also heard about the church’s rich history and recalled the names of former pastors - people that I had heard of but had never met. Faithful men and women now in Heaven. But I did get to meet their sons and daughters who remained as church members after their parents had retired from pastoral ministry and had gone on to their heavenly reward. Among them, there was tremendous loyalty and faithfulness to God and the Church of God.
My favorite part of this particular Sunday was the afternoon tour and lunch with the pastor, his family, and about 25 church members. Their stories, testimonies, and even the laughter reminded me of how great the people of the Church of God really are.
The pastor and his wife have married children, with their oldest now 28. However, about five years ago, they adopted a beautiful little girl when she was only one year old. She is a precious young lady, now with the hope of a good life because a ministry couple cared and loved her.
God has blessed this pastor with a landscaping business, and from what I saw, he and his team of employees are amazing at what they do. By his own testimony, he believes that God has blessed him in such a great way so that he is able to give back to the church and to the work of the Lord.
When I left this couple and church, I felt energized. Truthfully, I usually do. When I witness the passion, recognize the calling, and observe the gifts of men and women across the Church of God, it never ceases to amaze me. Our denomination is truly a tapestry of multi-gifted people with amazing backgrounds and work ethic that God integrates into their current calling. It reminds me of growing up and watching my own father, well before I could fully comprehend all that it really took to have the cares of the church constantly on you shoulders and in your heart. At the same time my father was pastoring a small group of people, he was also delivering mail, driving a school bus, or painting houses to provide for our family.
These visits remind me of my first church - and how having 80 people on a good day was special! It reminds me of what it took to make the church work and operate with effectiveness. Admittedly, those 80 people deserved better than what they got from me at that time in my life. Yet, they endured and we didn’t kill each other. They taught me, loved me, and to the best of their ability, blessed me at every turn. Just as thousands of similar Church of God churches are doing today, our church made an impact in the community.
As I fly home tonight after another wonderful series of services, I can’t help but celebrate these pastors and their incredible congregations. Churches of all sizes and composition have a glorious place to fill in God’s Kingdom and in working to Finish the Great Commission.
Timothy M. Hill