Alone in the Pew—Not for Long
By Terry Brown of Pigeon, MI, USA
The Eternal Christ invites those who have yet to experience the blessings of baptism to “Follow me in the way of righteousness and peace.” Be baptized of water and the Spirit and discover your spiritual home as a fully functioning member of the body. —Doctrine and Covenants 164:3c
A few months ago a young man walked into our church alone. We greeted him warmly. Our regular attenders introduced themselves and asked his name. Questions swirled inside our heads. “Who is he? Why is he here? Is he someone’s relative?” The young man smiled warmly and sat alone in one of our many empty pews. A couple soon joined him.
He later bonded with an older gentleman of the congregation. He confided that he spent time in jail on an alcohol-related charge and would be back behind bars, and worse, if he did not make changes in his life. He had visited other churches, but chose to continue joining us. A couple of weeks ago he committed to baptism!
A few months before, another young man sat in that pew—alone. People were warm with him before and after church. They learned that I had invited him, but I was a guest in another congregation that day. He came again but did not sit alone anymore. He brought all his in-laws several times.
We often complain that we are a small congregation. We feel there are too few of us to make a difference. We feel we don’t have enough children for classes. We hear, “The congregation is aging and dying.” And then someone steps into our lives, and the Spirit of God shows us a miracle. God graces us with a love that we take for granted. God invites us to invite, to welcome, to connect, and to share Jesus Christ.
Embracing that call frightens us. “What can we ask the stranger? How much do I share of myself? What testimony can I share that won’t sound too pushy?”
We live in a world hungry for relationships, one in which people long to know their lives have meaning. People are hungry for the Word we have committed to share.
No matter our size, we need to see ourselves as a part of a growing congregation— growing in love with our savior, learning to love each other, practicing the art of being conductors of the Spirit. A movement that began with Jesus and 12 disciples continues to transform those who believe in the Living Word. It continues to refresh itself with new disciples reborn in Christ. Be among the believers who share this radical, transforming love with others.
Prayer for Peace
Open us, O God, to another’s delights and sorrows. Help us see with eyes of compassion. Plant in us a will to share your love and peace.
Spiritual Practice: Invite People to Christ
Read and reflect on Doctrine and Covenants 162:3b and 163:2b. Pray to be aware of people who might be receptive, and therefore blessed, by your sharing of the message of the Living Christ. Imagine being in relationship with them and inviting them to Christ. In preparation, discover your personal testimony of Christ. “Be persistent in your witness and diligent in your mission to the world.” Repeat this phrase throughout the day: “Christ’s mission, our mission, my mission.”
Today, I will seek out an opportunity to listen to another’s need and to express God’s love in action.