December 2, 2020

A Beautiful Church

Toby Nix orgOftentimes a law enforcement officer will pick up a part time job to add extra money to the stacks of money we make at our day (or night) job.

A buddy of mine recently asked if I could pick up one of his side jobs; working at a local church for a couple of hours while the congregation holds a weeknight bible study.

I’m always looking for extra money, as I have children who need cars and braces and at least a couple of meals per week.

However, in this particular instance, this happens to be a buddy who I could never so no to. I would have done it for free. Keep in mind, I didn’t tell him I would do it for free. I hope he doesn’t read this column.

The job description is not much more than show up and be seen. I wore an off duty uniform and was to hang around the lobby, walk around outside if I wanted to, and not let anything happen that shouldn’t happen at a weeknight bible study.

My immediate thought was, “How sad is this world that these people feel the need to pay me to stand here in uniform to ensure they can have a bible study in peace?” Every person who entered that building made a point to speak to me. The few I held the door open for made a point to thank me. These people, that night, they are not people who should be paying for protection.

I haven’t been in church in years, though I constantly tell myself I should be. I sat in the lobby and tried to listen to what the Pastor was saying. I couldn’t make out much in particular, but the snippets I heard sounded much like a normal bible study.

So as I sat there mad at the world for being so insane that good people felt the need to have me on scene just so they could meet, I began to also get mad at myself. Why did they have to pay me to be here? Why shouldn’t I do this just because it’s the right thing to do? I wasn’t wearing a “WWJD” bracelet, but I’m pretty sure the “J” in “WWJD” would not have taken compensation for standing around a lobby and walking around a parking lot for a few hours.

After the bible study, a young man walked out whose voice I recognized as the voice I heard leading the evening discussion. He walked around the room speaking with a few members and made his way to me. He introduced himself to me, briefly chatted, and spoke as highly of my buddy who asked me to work as I typically speak of him. Now I REALLY hope he doesn’t read this column.

I told the Pastor twice in that brief exchange how beautiful I thought the church was. He then disappeared to the back somewhere and reappeared with a cart and a food tray. As they gathered around the cart he said, “Hey Toby, you want some homemade banana pudding?” It was at this moment I found yet another reason I love living in the South. If you’re at a church in the South, you’re no stranger, no matter why you’re in the lobby. Not when there is food on the table.

On my ride home I was thinking about how genuinely kind everyone I just met was. I thought again about how I wish I had a church I attended regularly.

It dawned on me as I drove home, perhaps I had insulted the Pastor by saying, not once but twice, how beautiful his church was. I guess in all my years of absence from the church I forgot one of the first rules of church. The church is the people.

The building is just that, a building. With that being said, I can assure you that church was most beautiful indeed. The church I met coming in and out of the building. I do hope the Pastor reads this column. He has a beautiful church, which happens to meet in a well put together brick building.

Toby Nix


  1. Good article.

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