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The church that should not be

Mobile Chapel. Photo: Sandy McIntosh

Mobile Chapel. Photo: Sandy McIntosh

I am a Christian, but on some Sundays I don’t go to church. A few times a year I go to a truck stop where a group “Transport for Christ” has worship services. If this truck stop chapel is a church, it has some flaws.

I remember taking a course called “Church Growth” where we planned to start prosperous and stable suburban churches. We looked for communities with young families and affordable real estate, and planned for the long-term.

The truck stop is surrounded by industry, with no houses for miles. The local community is truck drivers who stop for a few hours. The church is a modified semi trailer, with stacking chairs inside.

This is not a pretty suburban temple with expensive windows and a pipe organ. There is a window on the door, but not even a guitar for music. That pattern was part of the plan, a chapel for industrial workers, but things have gone wrong.

The parking lots have been sold to other businesses and now there is only a fuel station and a hotel. The mobile chapel is hidden at the back. Another, larger truck stop is just across the road, but the owners have threatened Christian workers with arrest if they preach there.

It’s a tough neighbourhood.

When I visit, I have to park far away and navigate past big trucks and small industrial businesses. Pedestrians are a safety problem, and I have experienced some hostility.

At the chapel, services are only held on the first two Sundays of the month; chaplains are in short supply. At a typical service they pass out the hymn books, if the leader can sing. The leader also prays and gives a Bible study with some practical advice. And there is a collection box by the door.

Transport for Christ has talked about moving, and relocation would be easy, since the church is on wheels. But one more problem keeps them at that inconvenient location.

Are you ready for this?

Go early to get a seat. I came a few minutes early last time and I got the last seat, by the door. The next guy had to stand until the leader gave up his seat when he stood at the front. It was not hard to fill the place; there were only a few chairs, and one guy brought his whole family, but the problem remains. People keep coming.

The lesson is clear, if we shine God’s light into a dark place, people will come to the light. God’s business plan still applies; feed the hungry. This world is starving for spiritual food.

Most Christians live without the impediments of the truck stop, and with greater opportunities, but the results come where faithful Christians obey God. Impediments don’t apply.

Jesus said “on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18).

Jesus also said “Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith!” (Luke 12:27-28)

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