The small church column


I love my father-in-law. I enjoy spending time with him, and I always know where I stand with him. He says exactly what he thinks, and he says it directly. If he doesn’t like you, you will know it.

He also is the person who has given me the greatest compliment I have ever received. To the casual eaves-dropper, or the unrelated guest, this compliment may not have meant much. It may have even been perceived as an insult. But, I knew the meaning behind it, and it is the best thing anyone has ever said to me.

When I married his daughter, we lived in California. He lives in Massachusetts. His name is Stanley. He worked a dairy farm near the New Hampshire border, for most of his life. He’s never been on a plane, and I’m sure that he never will be. So, he didn’t make it out for the wedding. It was a few years before we were able to travel to Massachusetts to visit dad. Before he met me, I don’t know what he thought about this son-in-law, he had spoken to only briefly on the phone. He knew that I had gone to Bible College, and now that I was graduated, I was pastoring a church in California. He probably thought that I was some “fancy-pants” California kid. He may have thought that I was some strange fire breathing, Bible thumping, big-haired preacher, with white leather shoes. I’m not sure what he thought, but I’m sure that he had some reservations about this California preacher kid, who married his daughter.

At the end of our visit to see dad, we got together for one last dinner, before we headed for the airport. We stood inside the restaurant saying our goodbyes, and Stanley spoke in that thick New England accent, giving his comment on what he thought about this newest addition to his family, “Well, ya just a regulah guy.” I knew I had passed the test. I was okay.

People have told me wonderful things about my preaching, or my guitar playing. They have been very thankful for the ways in which I have helped them, and said things which I have appreciated hearing. But, never has any compliment meant so much, as being told by my father-in-law, that I’m just a regular guy.

I don’t need to be anything more. I don’t want to be anything more. The world is full of people who are scrambling to achieve greatness. Even church is full of individuals who have this same dog eat dog mentality. And that is how many people perceive the church. So, they tell us, that it is full of hypocrites.

Most people in this world would prefer a little reality over a pile of fantasy. They would like to have a little personal relationship, over slick professionalism. The small church can give these things.

In the small church, we are all just a bunch of regular people. We have no super-heroes of the faith, because we do not perform any super-hero tasks. None of us are on TV. Few of us are even on the radio. We do not have larger than life musical performances, or slick drama productions. We do not sway thousands with our oratorical skills. We are just regular people, beating out our day to day service for the Lord.

I think that this is the way church is supposed to be. The point of Christianity is that there is truly only one Hero – Christ. The rest of us are just doing our best to follow in His footsteps. Some of us do it a little better than others, but we are still just regular people, doing our best to be a little bit more like Jesus each day.

When was the last time you saw a place given to non-professional speakers to share their testimony on a Sunday morning? When have you seen people be able to share their griefs, and their victories, and be prayed for by someone who wasn’t paid to do the praying? The small church is hokey. As such, it can be empowered. It is full of regular people, and every Sunday we have the opportunity to showcase regular people, who have regular problems.

I believe that this is the wave of the future, for the church in the U.S. This is where God is taking us next. He will be moving us away from the professionalism of the world, and into the “foolishness of the God.” (1 Cor.1:25) He is looking for hokey churches, who do things with regular people. Just like my father-in-law, He will be relieved to be able to say, “Well, ya just a regulah guy.”

Phil Wyman, pastor of Church on the Coast in Carlsbad is compiling this material into a book. If you have any questions or responses, you may write to him at Church on the Coast, 4740 Dalea Pl., Oceanside, CA 92057. e-mail address –

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