Books have been written about what it is, and how to nurture it. Nearly every church leadership seminar includes a session addressing it. Community. It is vital to the physical and spiritual health of the local church, and while I cannot put my finger on all the ingredients that make it real, I wish I could share with you a little of the community that is the byproduct of being a part of the Porter Free Will Baptist Church family.
Sunday, July 12, 2009 was an unusual day at Porter. A significant storm (with tornado-like characteristics) passed through our little community the day before, rendering most of the residents and businesses in its path powerless – that is, without electricity. The church suffered very little damage, but there was a tremendous mess to be cleaned up, both inside and out. One of the cap stones on our bell tower was blown off, and we had quite a bit of water that flowed down through the bell tower, as well as around all of our windows that faced north. A law of physics is that water runs downhill, so, inevitably the water ended up in the basement. Not a large volume of water, but enough that it had to be extracted. Also, the vacuum from the storm dislodged an access panel in the church library that leads to the church attic, which allowed blown-in insulation to be blown all over the inside of that room.
Outside, our flagpole was bent badly, as well as our church sign being damaged. There were trees and limbs enough to fill a haywagon, a dump-trailer and a utility trailer numerous times. Fifteen men worked non-stop for nearly six hours to not only cut up and haul away the trees and limbs, they also raked the leaves! Four women worked as hard for as long inside the church doing what was necessary to extract the water from the carpet, and clean up the insulation. One of our men towed a large industrial generator to the church to allow for the shop-vacs and carpet cleaner.
You may have been asking what any of this has to do with “community.” Well, from my vantage point, this IS community. And while everyone worked so well together in extreme heat and humidity, I never heard the first complaint. Men working side-by side, doing what was necessary to do what must be done. Keep in mind that this all happens on a Sunday. No Sunday school, no morning or evening worship. Just men and women working together to clean up one big mess. Laughter, fellowship and hard work. Those are a few of the ingredients that result in the “community” I see at Porter. But it goes so much deeper. You see, for everyone that worked so hard, their motivation was simply that they were doing it for the Lord and their church family. Working in that kind of heat and humidity, along with “working on the sabbath” is extreme. But, you see, their love for the Lord,and their devotion to each other is extreme as well. Do I have regrets that we did what we did on a Sunday? Yes. I do have one; that I didn’t call everyone in our church directory to let them know about this wonderful opportunity to serve the Lord, and each other, as we got our “ox out of the ditch.” I don’t know about anyone else, but as I drove away from the church I was tired, but I felt as if I had truly worshipped the Lord.