This went on for over a year. Then, on one occasion, some of the employees had gotten together after work and started reminiscing about the "good ol' days" back at the old plant. Among other things, they fondly remembered a long-time employee named Irving, (who hadn't moved with the company to the new plant) and what a great guy he had been. It had been Irving's job to transport the sausages from the cold storage room to the smokehouse. Because of the old, relatively inefficient layout of the old plant, this trip took around a half-hour, and wound through a series of hallways. Irving would roll the racks full of sausages past the factory's boiler room. He passed the tanks where corned beef was cooked. He had to navigate a maze of hanging bins and take a ride in an elevator. Suddenly, like a thunderbolt, it hit them! Irving was the missing ingredient in their sausages! Because the new plant was laid out much more efficiently, they had removed what was seen as a wasteful 30-minute trip through a warm plant on the sausages' way to the smokehouse. But what they discovered was that 30 minutes of warming between the cold storage and the smokehouse was one of the vital components in their finished product, and that's what was missing...Irving. That's why if you visit the plant today, you will find a special room that was added on to the existing building that has only one purpose: it simulates Irving's trip around the old plant. Now sausages don't go to the smokehouse without first stopping in this room.
I think there is a useful principle here for us as a church. A core tenet that we should remember is that the local church (in our case, Berean Bible Church) is not primarily its buildings or programs or music or sermons. The church is us! Berean is what it is because of the unique combination of individuals that make it up. The Apostle Paul compares the church (I would argue both the local and universal church) to a physical body and stresses that each and every part serves a function and is necessary to the body (see 1 Corinthians 12:12-31). In other words, whenever you aren't at Berean Bible Church, the church suffers for it! You are like Irving. Whether you think so or not, your absence from church means something. You are a vital ingredient in the whole that is Berean Bible Church, and without every one of us, that whole...well...it won't be whole. This is part of the reason the author of Hebrews writes "Let us not give up meeting together..." (Hebrews 10:25) And notice, interestingly enough, that in this verse the opposite of not meeting together is something very simple: mutual encouragement. When we all come together, we are all the better for it; we are encouraged by one another.
Life gets busy. And sometimes it gets so busy that church life can become marginalized. But you don't need to be a teacher or preacher or worship leader to be vital to Berean. As a part of our local body, your very presence is a vital ingredient. Make presence at our weekly meetings something that is a priority to you. You are needed! Consider who you can encourage. Think about friends who could hear from you how much you miss them at church. Let's not give up on the wonderful opportunity to meet and celebrate, grow and be encouraged together.
- Pastor Paul