I usually do not write about specific churches in my blog. A stop by a historical small church in the countryside to take a picture gave me something to write about.
My wife Gracie and I decided to take a Sunday drive a couple of weeks ago across the county when we ran across a small church on the outskirts of Aubrey, a small Texas town. Driving past on a small county road we spotted an old church bell hanging in front of the church. We pulled over as Gracie wanted to take a picture of the bell. Later that day we made the decision to take the drive and make a return visit for services the following Sunday.
We arrived at about 9:30 and took part in an adult Sunday School class complete with coffee and donuts. The class reminded me of old friends sitting around the fireplace enjoying a chat about Jesus. Friends and neighbors were mentioned by name in their prayers, reminding me of the line in the old “Cheers” theme song, “where everybody knows your name”. Before the main service commenced, almost everyone in attendance had stopped by to welcome us. Intimate and connected, everyone made us feel at home. The members were proud of their church informing us that they were founded 114 years ago in 1900.
During the worship service we sang from hymnals which I pleasantly enjoyed. I can’t remember the last time that I actually picked up a song book and turned to a page to sing a hymn. I was told by one of the parishioners that the Sunday sermon would be delivered by a visiting professor from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The sermon was wonderfully delivered by Dr. Deron Biles. I was thoroughly immersed in the sermon and must admit that it was probably the best sermon that I have heard this year. Deron, an obvious student of the Word took me on a ride with grace that moved me to the core. He touched my inner spirit with his words and walked me down Calvary’s lane with his delivery.
With our decision to visit a small church out in the country I really did not know what to expect. What I received was a tremendous blessing, and I was reminded during the sermon that the Bible tells us that it was in Antioch that we were first called Christians. This small church outside Aubrey, Texas brings honor to the name Antioch. I grew up in small churches that my father pastored, but when I moved into full-time ministry I was involved in mega-churches as an associate pastor. I have spent my adult life attending large churches, and it had been many years since I had not been in a church service where the crowd outnumbered a Friday night high school football game. Stepping away from the big-church scene and stopping by to visit a small church turned out to be a greater blessing than I ever expected. My memories had forgotten the close bond and camaraderie that one feels in a smaller group of people.
The Sunday visit to Antioch Baptist Church taught me that this small church is a big place indeed. In an era today where many churches today have an intricate mechanical step-by-step plan on how to worship, this loving group of people painted a fresh coat of paint on my picture of believers that we call the church, boldly bringing out the colors of community and congregation. I am thankful that we took that Sunday afternoon drive and stopped by Antioch Baptist Church to take a picture of the bell.