Each week, I want to share something I appreciate about my community of faith, the Belton Church of Christ located in Belton, TX. Each week, I will highlight one “bright spot” in my congregation.
I love my Church today because they know what to applaud.
My congregation has been in a series called “Game Changer” exploring how Christ’s resurrection changes the strategy of our lives. So far, we have had messages dealing with parenting, finances, and fearful living. Today’s message was how the Resurrection changes how we have a relationship with God. The text for today was Ephesians 2:1-10. Because of the Resurrection we stop earning our way to God and instead participate with Christ’s victory. The message was intended to help people seeking a relationship with God to accept God’s grace.
As this message was coming together, another great thing was happening. A couple that had taken our membership covenant the previous week wanted to be baptized. I have thoroughly enjoyed talking with them and getting to know them. The wife is a life-long believer who had simply never taken the step of baptism. The husband was raised in a faith tradition that practiced infant baptism instead of believer’s baptism. Both found our congregation to be a people they believe they can join and belong and they wanted to be immersed into Christ with this congregation. As I stood with the husband and we were eyeing the baptistery, I asked him if he had ever seen a baptism before and he said “no.” We quickly gave him some instructions!
Another more somber event is happening as well. Our Children’s minister whom I love is retiring. She tendered her resignation and wrote a letter to the congregation that I was asked to read on her behalf. She made me promise not to make a big deal out of it, so I decided to read this at the beginning of the message time.
1. At the beginning of our worship assembly, we baptized Jeff and Lisa. The congregation erupted with applause. (The only thing louder that the applause was Lisa’s answer when I asked if she believed Jesus is the Son of God. She shouted, “YES I DO!”)
2. I read Carol’s resignation letter. The congregation rose to their feet to applaud Carol and thank her for her work.
3. At the end of the message, we said “There is something better than earning your place and that is living by grace.” The congregation applauded. (I had to stop and wait before I could finish.)
I remember listening to Reubel Shelley when I was in college. He stopped in the middle of a lecture to give a quick aside about applause in church. (Applause in my congregation in the early ’90s was still somewhat uncomfortable.) He clapped his hands and said, “Do you know what this is? This is how the next generation says, ‘Amen!'” Today, I heard “Amen. Amen. And Amen.”
When does your congregation applaud and why?