The church I belong to started in what is now a local pub in Kloof.
Back in the late 1890’s it was Krantzkloof Station. A minister would come on horseback all the way up from Pinetown to take a service once a month. The congregation sang unaccompanied. The communion table was a round railway station table covered with a Natal Government Railways regulation cloth.
Before the railway, stuff had to be moved by oxen or horse to and from Durban. A one-way trip took ¾ of a day. Now it barely takes ¾ of an hour by car. The railway line and the train station were a radical and significant innovation in the life of the local community.
My church grew from a unique juncture in history. A God-given opportunity for that particular era.
God is generous enough to keep given opportunities to every generation. We must be alert otherwise opportunity may just pass by the church.
WHAT IS ‘NORMAL’ CHURCH
First, we tend to look at our current experience of church as being normal, of being right, and sometimes, as being the only way. Yet, a small group of believers started out huddled in a train station and most Sundays, simply sang together (unaccompanied) and shared some teachings from the Bible. There was a special service of Holy Communion once a month, when the local minister could do his rounds. That was the way it was then in my church but is very different to the way things are now. Today we have a staff team, multiple programmes, numerous services, multi-media and worship teams.
Such change leads to important questions.
What does it mean to belong to the local church? What should we hold to be important? How have things changed or stayed the same in our church? How has what is normal shifted in our lifetime?
Second, the church arose and grew because of a special set of social circumstances, affected by the changing geography and technology of the age. The new-fangled, railway opened up opportunities that weren’t there previously when there was no station.
The area our church is in today is very much a microcosm of South Africa and the global trends. I have to ask what social, economic, political and technological changes are presenting us with a unique opportunity to birth new ministries and outreaches so that the good news of Jesus may go forth in this generation. And you have to answer what the equivalent is to the train station?
The Bible reminds us that during the time of David there were “from Issachar, men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do—200 chiefs, with all their relatives under their command” (1Chronicles 12:32).
The need remains. The church needs people who can seize the God opportunities of today.