The sermon is fine, and the hymn-singing stirring, and then we all file out to the fellowship hall, where in little huddles and corners of the room the real conversation begins:
Judy is leaving her husband to find herself on a farm in Maine. Terry is quitting the meals committee because no one ever shows up to work. John and Alice are leaving the church because the music director insulted them. Donna's feelings are hurt because her grandmother died and not a single person in the congregation went to the funeral. None of the elders ever attend the Saturday men's group; I don't think they're very spiritual. The Sunday morning prayer meeting is praying for the salvation of the pastor.
But over the holidays we had a special church service in which the floor was opened up to confessions and testimonies from any and all in the congregation. Strangers you had sat with for 20 years went to the podium and shared about God's work in their lives. It was like an AA meeting, but you knew who the "higher power" was.
Amazing. I didn't realize you were having the same struggle with food that I was. I wasn't aware that the cars ministry had given away five cars to widows this year. You say you adopted a Russian orphan and you really need emotional support? Your son in prison asked the Lord to be his savior while in solitary confinement? Praise the Lord.
I don't know much about the early church except what Paul and Luke said, but I know there was so much public sharing that Paul had to give instructions about speaking up one at a time (1 Corinthians 14). I thank God for our once-a-year times of getting real and acting like an Acts church.