Yesterday I was waiting in the hallway for my wife’s Sunday School class to dismiss so I could walk with her to the church service. As I looked down the hall, I was pleased to hear voices from nearby classrooms and further away. For some reason I had sort of a flashback to 1986 when I worked as a TV Director/Producer for an evangelist who was transforming his ministry to be a church. We had leased the buildings that had been Woodridge Baptist Church near Gulfgate Mall in Houston.
In our weekly staff meeting at Phil Arms, we were told about how the ministry was going to be transformed into ‘Houston Church’. There was a deal made where we would move into the buildings that had been a large thriving church that dated back to the mid 1950’s. The remaining members of Woodridge Baptist Church numbered to only about 15 people. They would occupy what was the fellowship hall and make that their church. We had access to the rest of the buildings. The sanctuary could seat about 800 people.
I met several of our staff members at the church to do a walk through so we could see what we needed to do to get our part accomplished. Since I was the Television Director/Producer I was looking where to hang lights, find power for the truss of lights and where to park the TV Production Truck. I also needed 220 power for the truck. I needed to park the truck where we could string all the camera cables into the building to reach where we needed to place the four broadcast cameras.
After I did my initial walkthrough with lots of notes written down for our requirements I decided to walk through the rest of the building to see what all was there. I walked into the Sunday School section of the building, climbed the stairs to the second floor. There was no power in the building at the time, so I had a flashlight with me. My first impression was I was walking through a time warp. There were chairs arranged in rooms like as if there was Sunday School the day before but there was a layer of dust that had to take years to accumulate. There were Sunday School books scattered randomly in the chairs. I picked one up and saw the date was September 1978. That was 8 years before!! I guessed this part of the building had not been occupied for about 8 years. I walked further down the hall and saw bulletin boards that had various activities advertise that talked about a Fall Retreat and other youth activities. I wondered what happened for this church to die so suddenly that everything was abandoned in place. I never heard why this large church died like it did.
As I thought about walking through that church building, I recall the people I was with that day, Charlie Davis, Frank Dvorak, and Eugene Cowles. All three have passed away. Charlie died of cancer in the late 1990’s. Frank died in the mid 2000’s. I did not hear what caused his death. Eugene, who I considered a best friend died of massive heart failure just days after taking the covid vaccine. It is sobering to think about all these guys who are now gone. It is sort of like thinking of that church that died long before them.
Snapping back to reality of today, I am grateful for friends I can call on. I am thankful for my church that is thriving, and the future looks healthy and growing. I am thankful for our new Pastor who has a heart for missions and evangelism.
Maybe that was the death of that large church those many years ago, they lacked good leadership and lost sight of the Great Commission which changed their focused on to the local church. At that point, a church becomes a club, not a mission. So sad…