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A pastor who is an avid long-canoe racer makes an analogy of how racing is a metaphor for building a vital, Christ-like congregation.
On Sunday at 10:15 a.m., we gathered for worship in the Sanctuary of LoveJoy United Presbyterian Church. It was one of the first beautiful spring weekends of the year. The church service was entirely ordinary, save that I asked the congregation to refrain from shaking hands during the passing of the peace. It was March 8, 2020, and it was the last time that we would worship together in the sanctuary for more than a year.
It seems that in today’s culture, the “bigger is better” philosophy is all around us. Supercenters, 75-inch flat-screen televisions and mega-sized smartphones have become the norm. The church is not immune to this growing trend (pun intended), as many communities are seeing the growth of the megachurch — churches with hundreds in worship, often across multiple campuses and varying service times. It is as if the larger the church membership becomes, the healthier the church is perceived to be, leaving smaller congregations often feeling inadequate. While megachurches may appear to be the new norm, statistics paint a different picture.
If you overlook the name of a church, sometimes you miss a vital story in the life of their congregation. Such is the case for Valley United Presbyterian Church.
When Sarah Robbins accepted her first call, at Dormont Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, she knew it would be a challenge. The church had been experiencing declining membership, deteriorating facilities, and dwindling finances. While she hoped that she might bring new life to the congregation, she realized that couldn’t happen unless she talked about death and resurrection.