By Tim Griffiths, Director of Stewardship
The Country Church of Yesteryear
Many times in my life, I have traveled the highways and bi-ways of Nebraska. (Yes, I can hear many of you moan, thinking about driving through the vast corn fields of the Cornhusker state.) However, the last couple of trips have taken me on the exact same road and past a large white country church. You see the steeple on the horizon rising out of the corn from miles around announcing to all: a church. This church, located just off I-80 and Highway 81, has a new roof, fresh paint, and large wooden pews. It even has a big banner announcing when it is open (10-4 pm Tuesday through Saturday & Sunday 1-4 pm). It serves as an icon of the plains and what used to be.Over the past hundred years, historical societies and museums like Pioneer Village and Wessels Living History Farm have latched onto these churches. – protecting, preserving and reminiscing about the good old days of yesteryear. Now, they stand at attention, void of the eternal life saving message.
The Past: Bringing Communities Together
Years ago, these churches were located at an intersection where friends, family and neighbors would come together on Sunday morning to hear the Word of God, celebrate the good times and to call out to God in times of need. Often times, the local cemetery was out the back door. Roll call could be taken by which pew was empty on Sunday morning and church potlucks were a resemblance of a family reunion.
The Reality: Churches Without Hope
Today, many of these small-town and country churches have closed. Some have been maintained as museums, others sold and a few abandoned – a stagnant reminder of the spiritual void left in the empty pews and pulpit.
This is, of course, the bad news. The good news is that these rural churches have not been forgotten. Village Missions has sent out hundreds of missionary pastors to revive these struggling churches by preaching the Word and loving the people. You could say they are bringing back the good-old days.
So, the next time you drive through a small town and pass the local museum that has one of these country churches, remember that not so very far away, there are rural communities and small towns in need of the Gospel. Rural America needs these churches and pastors to hear the life-changing message of a Savior who died for them.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”