That’s the name of the rural church I pastor in Sullivan County, TN.
We are not a congregation of academic elites or paragons of business.
We are a blue-collar congregation. Hard workers. Many are retired after working at one job for 40 years.
We are a loyal people.
And we are a Christian church, a branch of what is known historically as The Restoration Movement (catch up on it here if you’d like).
Down the road from our building about two miles is a Baptist church. I’ve heard disparaging comments from some of our people about those people.
They don’t believe like we do. Which really means, “We’re right, they’re wrong.”
I have spoken with people from that church, nice people from what I could tell. And I’ve had a conversation with one gal who laid out why she thinks we’re wrong, and in the process managed to take jabs at the Catholic Church, which I’ve heard our people do as well.
This, and more, much more, has led me to say on occasion from the pulpit that we will cease to be who God wants us to be until the most important word on our respective signs is Church. Hear the words of the apostle Paul:
4 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 EAGER to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body (church) and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all (Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Campbellites, Catholics, etc) and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:1-6, ESV)
I wonder where Paul got that? You could read the entirety of Jesus’ prayer for the oneness of his people in John 17. And also here in John 13:
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Does this mean we accept what everyone believes without question or testing? No. But it does mean we do it in such a way that Christ is honored and the unity of the Spirit is maintained in a bond of peace. That’s what I don’t see.
And I don’t think we’ll see it until Church becomes the most important word on our signs.