The church is the one organization in the world that exists for everybody that is not presently in it.
I don't know who said that or where it came from, but I think it's pretty close to the truth. The majority of the problems in the church today are the result of church members not understanding the truth in that statement. Perhaps you've heard of worship wars? The whole context of the worship war is people arguing for the type of music that they like. Maybe you've seen churches split over stupid issues, like the color of the carpet. I'm pretty sure you've been to a church that has no relevance to the community around it. Why do churches have to deal with these situations? Probably because people think their church gatherings are all about them!
I think as pastors we need to be sensitive to the community around us. Rob Bell, in his book Velvet Elvis, suggests that churches shouldn't need to have signs. People should be hunting for them! They should be as bastion of hope for a community that is dying! The problem is that when churches become self-serving, the purpose of the gathering is no longer present and the group is officially on it way to death.
In order to adjust the mentality of a church, the leaders should be emersed in the community. They should know the types of people they have the possibility to minister to. They should know the issues, concerns, hopes, and dreams of their community. As my friend Matt said, you gotta find the heartbeat of a community. It is when a church knows who it is ministering to, where it can minister at, and how it can be the most effective in its ministries, the church is on a good path towards reaching the place it is living in.
What are some practical ways that your church could get rid of its sign?
- Perhaps your city has a ton of strip clubs...maybe some of the women in your church could go show the love of Jesus to strippers. Give them some dignity, and help them get out of a system that traps them.
- Perhaps your church could do something about people in your community who don't have adequate housing. Thus give hope to people who have no hope.
- Perhaps your church could look around its neighborhood and spend all of its time doing things to show just one subdivision in your area what the kingdom of God looks like.
The one thing that all these ideas have in common is that they have looked for ways to actually be a light in their community! They have seen the needs and have let the way they live their lives be the message of the Gospel. If I were to start a church tomorrow, it is actions like these that I would want to be central to the existence of that community.
What do you think?