Date: January 24, 2016
I moved to the Gruene district of New Braunfels in mid-January. As when I moved to San Antonio, this time I also decided that I’d visit all the churches here before making my decision on where I’d land. Once I have a short list of churches, I’ll take Don back around to see which he feels most comfortable worshiping in.
How I ended up at Little Gruene Church
As you drive into Gruene Lake Village, you see a small sign for Little Gruene Church to the right. Makes you wonder what it is and certainly I immediately put it on my list, due to the proximity to my new home. This weekend, I’d planned to go to the Unity Church of New Braunfels, but the night before, I met a new neighbor named Rich. After a brief introduction, he shared that on the weekends, he teaches at the Little Gruene Church. Come to find out, he is a co-pastor of the church and views himself more as a teacher versus a preacher. He invited me to come the next day because after church, there’d be a potluck at his large home next door. So, I changed my plans.
Took me all of three minutes to walk over to the church, if that long. Might have been less, if I’d known that I could have gone in the backdoor versus the front.
Really, folks, this church is maybe 1/16th of a mile from my home. I walked over on a perfect day with wispy clouds in the sky. The sign in front is small, but has a big welcome.
Rich greeted me at the front door, then I quickly met Barbara who also lives in my neighborhood. Oddly enough, I quickly learned that my other neighbor Heath is the pianist for the church.
I’d say that the general start to the service is much like the church in which I grew up. You have your meet & greet, hymns and such, then a children’s sermon. Two boys came forward for that (sons of Heath and his wife Patsy) and Pastor Don gave the message. Before finishing that message he asked if the boys had a scripture for him. Each took their turn standing and gave a verse that they’d chosen and memorized for the week. LOVED this idea! What a great way to get kids to read the Bible and make it part of their lives.
This church doesn’t put great emphasis on the offertory portion of the service. Pastor Rich pointed that out then shared that if God had called you to donate, there were boxes located at the front and back doors to drop those in. I thought this was unusual and delightful at the same time. Although I’d written a check before I arrived, I stepped out of the church in the end and forgot to drop in my tithe. I caught myself at the last minute and stopped back in to put that in the box. Guess there’s some training needed for that new tithing process. As with the Baptist churches I’ve attended in the past, the Doxology was then sung.
Before the sermon, one of the lay readers, who I think was also a board member, got up to read the scripture for the morning. Here’s where the service lost me for a few minutes. The man quoted from Two Corinthians 10 versus 3-5. Yes, he really said “Two Corinthians.” Well you know that had my mind off and running, given the current Donald Trump political talk about him saying the same thing versus Second Corinthians. Did this man support Donald Trump? Was he making a statement by doing that? Or, are there really people who also say “2 Corinthians” versus “Second Corinthians?” Guess I’ll never know, but sure had my mind in a tizzy trying to figure it out.
Message – “Winning the Battle for Your Mind”
Pastor Don gave a great message about taking control of your thoughts and how everything proceeds from thought to emotion and then result or habit. Felt like I was back at Mile Hi Church in Lakewood, CO with such ideas. That immediately struck a chord with me, so I enjoyed listening to him make the analogy between war and thought.
As he explained, he is much more of a teacher than a preacher, so his sermons are quite informative. Plus, he provides handouts for his talk, which makes it easy to remember over the coming week.
Afterward, we went to the pastor’s home for a potluck. (Pastor Rich calls this the church annex because it literally adjacent to the back door of the church.) Loved, LOVED his and his wife’s home. It’s filled with teak wood pieces and is one of the most beautiful, relaxing homes I’ve ever been in. I look forward to spending more time with he and his wife Kay and enjoying this neighborhood.