From the Archives: April 25, 2004

Memories. I’ve only attended three churches in my lifetime. Peninsula. Family Life (in Rancho Mirage). And Redeemer Covenant (in Downey). Before moving out to the desert with my new bride, Redeemer was my home. It was in the nursery at that church. I grew up in their Sunday School and VBS. I went to summer and winter camps through Redeemer. I sang in their choirs. It was there I first worked with children and youth. I was their youth pastor after seminary while looking for something more permanent. They ordained me into ministry. I was interim pastor for a while.

It’s not a large church; we never ran more than about 120 that I can remember. But size does not determine significance. There is always something special about Redeemer to me. It was home for the first 30 years of my life. Last weekend they (we?) celebrated 50 years of ministry in Downey. Fifty years. That’s a long time! I went over for a couple of events and enjoyed seeing old friends. They are a little grayer. Some a little heavier. But we still share the common bond of faith in Christ. I observed three things last weekend.

You don’t have to be big to be successful. It’s about faithfulness. The consistent preaching of God’s Word week after week for 50 years has made a difference in the lives of many.

You don’t have to have to be all things to all people. It’s about faithfulness to what God has called you to do. The richness of Redeemer’s history is discovered in its emphasis on ministry to children and youth. The lives reached and grown have gone out to shape the face of Christianity. I would love to have heard the stories of the impact of lives around the world. But I suppose there will be enough time for all that in eternity.

You don’t have to develop huge programs. It’s about people. In any church, it’s relationships which count. In a larger church, we often lose sight of the relational aspect of our faith. But if we do, we’ll miss the point. In our culture, people shop for churches. They look to have their own needs met. But church is about serving others and the Savior. It’s about relationships.

So, it was a wonderful weekend for me. But that’s long enough to look back. And the big shindig was (I pray) an encouragement to those still at Redeemer that the future is bright as long as they are faithful to the leading of God’s Spirit and maintain a close walk with God and each other. The same is true on Crestridge Road, the third church I’ve been a part of in my life.

There will be an eternity to explore the stories of all God has done on this planet in and through Peninsula. Looking back can be healthy, but you also must move forward. I’m ready to press on. Why? Because my memories tell me that God is good. All the time.