The Infamous Church Bulletin
by Charles Robey
"Give to the LORD the glory he deserves! Bring your offering and come into his presence. Worship the LORD in all his holy splendor" (I Chronicles 16:29).
"Where are those church bulletins? We can't have church without a bulletin. How will I know when to stand up and when to kneel and pray?" exclaimed Deacon Doubtful. As Deacon Doubtful continued to express his concern, many others also chimed in by expressing their apprehension.
Why, Sister Skeptic, who is usually rather quiet and doesn't take part in the service, stood and rather vocally screamed, "I've heard enough! I want you to know I'm a Christian and have been a member of this church for 30 years! Why, my father even helped start this church. The bulletin has always been a part of my life!"
Before Sister Skeptic could finish, she was rudely interrupted by Deacon Backslider, who shouted rather loudly, "Sister, you may indeed be a Christian but you certainly didn't get it here!" This contagious eruption continued into the start of the would be service, which prompted the need for Pastor Logic to step in and explain. You see, Pastor Logic was a soft spoken man of God but he just couldn't take it anymore.
"You see,” Pastor Logic said, “Our beloved Sister Faithful has been sick for many weeks, and she couldn't get the bulletins printed. We'll just have to depend on our faith to carry us through this service, even as hectic as the outcome may become."
After this short declaration from Pastor Logic, things seemed to settle down and the service went on as planned. But lo and behold, when Deacon Grateful started to pray, positive emotions suddenly overcame the entire congregation.
Certain supernatural events began happening throughout our small chapel. First of all, Deacon Grateful started his prayer by asking the Lord, "Lord please let something happen today that would not be in the bulletin.” And, oh how the spirit changed after Deacon Grateful prayed.
The music worship minister led the hymns like never before, accompanied by all the loyal attendees . It was just as if our little chapel had been taken over by a band of Angels. Even Sister No Note, who had been banished from the choir, chimed in like never before. What a glorious time of singing we had.
Next came the announcements and offering, led by Pastor Logic. I'll never forget how the Pastor stood so firmly as he outlined the coming week’s church events. And this alone was rather unusual since he didn't even have to read the usual upcoming agenda from the bulletin.
"Deacon Boring" became so excited; he shouted a big "Amen" to the Pastor’s announcement remarks. You would just have to know Deacon Boring to appreciate this. You see, he was a good man but he had never gotten caught up in the spirit of the services before. And, yes, the offering plates seemed to be filled that day as well.
Suddenly, when it came time for Pastor Logic to give his usual sermon, the chain of events continued to reverse the customary style of our worship. Throughout our little chapel, members and visitors alike began to spontaneously stand and give their testimonies.
One by one they stood until most had given their statement. And when the spontaneous worship was concluded, all Pastor Logic could add was a big "Amen” and a hearty “Hallelujah".
Well, we never had a sermon that day, as we didn't need one. You see, the sermon was real as the message of God's love was shown through expressions of the many who testified that day. Also, what was so real, no one bothered to check their watches as the meeting concluded by everyone gathering around the old fashion alter for prayer.
As the folks begin to shift out, we all broke out singing that old time gospel song," Give Me That Old Time Religion", to the tune of everyone clapping and hugging while exiting the chapel.
Well, as you probably guessed, our little church never was the same again. The weekly bulletins did continue. However, the format underwent a " Holy Redrafting". Now, instead of listing the order of service, the bulletins have a listing of church opportunities for serve within the church, a listing of the church prayer needs and an outline of the pastor's sermon with ample room for write-in notes.
When was the last time you heard the joyous shout of an "Amen" or a "Hallelujah" in your church service? And, can you relate to any closely related church misunderstandings, in tune to this fictional congregation?
I realize this is a fictitious rendering of the goodness and spontaneity of an old time "praise and worship" service. And, I also realize all church services have to have some semblance of order. However, I miss the "old time religion" whereby God's Holy Spirit is allowed to have His way in the service and people are moved in "Sanctification unto the Lord".
Yes, this story brings back vivid memories of those old "brush-arbor" revival meetings where the "Amen's" and the "Hallelujahs" echoed as the spirit led. I remember one time my preacher Daddy had an old time revival meeting, in which he spread pine branches and saw dust throughout the chapel. That was one real experience, with the women dressing in the old fashion long dresses with matching bonnets and the men dressing in authentic overalls.
Additionally, in support of the old evangelistic message, was that old fashion church altar, which sadly to say is missing from many of our churches these days. Now, I realize the physical make up of that old alter was no different than any other construction. However, that old fashion alter has always been very special as it continues to be where many folks are first introduced to the Living God, by way of the preachers simply "alter call". Does your church have an alter? If not, why not.
Remember, as far as we are concerned, the Bible speaks of two distinct churches. The church with the capital "C", which is Gods people. And, the church starting with a small "c", which is the brick and mortar physical buildings.
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God". (I Corinthians 10:3)