This week I enjoyed Wednesday lunch with Tom Asbury, senior pastor at East Ridge Community Church, a growing fellowship a half mile or so from beloved Emmanuel. East Ridge is an outgrowth of Duluth’s old Bethel Baptist, my childhood fellowship.
We talked about church life today. Old-line congregations merging or dying; startup churches thriving. Why? How do you keep a thriving church on track? We agreed no congregation can be all things to all people. A church must find its niche and fill it well.
We pondered the divine continuum that guides churches and pastors. Tom told of growing up in a poverty-ridden, dysfunctional home, of parents’ early deaths. Of youth years as an imagined atheist and how the Spirit of God intervened to guide him to faith and ministry. What a contrast with my story!
Our churches contrast too. East Ridge serves mostly young families; Emmanuel, mostly older folks, a bunch of whom will occasion memorial services in the next ten years.
That thought reminded me of a concern held by girl from 313. She feels Emmanuel is too small for the crowd that will gather to celebrate my passing. She wonders if East Ridge would consider opening its doors. Tom thought that could be arranged. I assured him I sensed no immediate need.
A comfortable, pleasant lunch: a young guy discovering the joys and challenges of ministry;a geezer preacher limping his way out. He expects to limp a while yet.
Old Grandpa Lloyd