I started a new book by a man who led an interesting life. He escaped Germany just prior to World War II, and then felt a calling to return and help the Christians who were still there and suffering under Nazi Germany. He did go back, and ultimately died at their hands in April of 1945. Knowing that small bit of his history makes this paragraph take on a new meaning for me:

It is not simply to be taken for granted that the Christian has the privilege of living among Christians. Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies. At the end all his disciples deserted him. On the Cross he was utterly alone, surrounded by evildoers and mockers. For this cause he had come, to bring peace to the enemies of God. So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the thick of foes. There is his commission, his work. ‘The Kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies. And he who will not suffer this does not want to be of the Kingdom of Christ; he wants to be among friends, to sit among roses and lilies, not with the bad people but the devout people. O you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ! If Christ had done what you are doing who would ever have been spared?’ (Luther)” (Bonhoeffer, 1954, pp. 17-18).

This is one of the traits that drew me to the church that I have made my home, the outward focus of the church and its people. I was blessed recently to help out in providing a prom-like party one night for over 800 handicapped (MRDD) people around the city. To see those people who probably never had a prom that they went to when they were growing up, have a whole night dedicated for their happiness really touched me deeply. Over 1000 people volunteered that night, each guest had an escort, each guest was provided with a donated suit or dress so they would feel special, and all of us were dedicated to their happiness.

I know there is a “friction” in the big church/small church debate, but I think we should worry less about what size the church is and more about how we’re impacting our community. If you go to a large church, do the big promotions that are possible in that environment. If you’re in a small church, reach out on a person-to-person basis. But either way, volunteer and get out there. Do something for those in your community, show them the love of Jesus in a real and practical way.

— Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. (1954). Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community. New York, NY: HarperCollins.