Thursday, August 6, 2015

Church Signs: We Are Not Closed

In my travels driving a shuttle bus for a local camp, I pass a church that has a sign out in front. Over the years they have put up some interesting messages, some of which have been fodder for my blog posts. Early in the summer, there was no message on the sign. The sign remained silent for a number of weeks, and I began to look for signs of life each time I drove by. Evidently I wasn't the only one who wondered if they had gone away. Just recently, a message appeared advertising their vacation Bible school. At the bottom of the message was an addendum, which read, "We are not closed."

As usual, the wheels in my head started to turn. I started thinking about what people would say if a particular church closed. Maybe it would be useful if we asked ourselves, "If my church closed, would anyone notice? If they did notice, why would they notice? What difference would it make?"

Would folks notice because the Sunday traffic in their neighborhood suddenly dwindled? Maybe the sudden ease of getting a restaurant table on Sunday afternoon would catch their attention. Would the people in your city take notice that they are no longer harangued by people yelling at them, telling them how wicked they are? Would your neighbors notice that you are no longer there, and rejoice?

Or, would your city discover that you are gone, and mourn? Mourn because there is now a gap in the care for the poor in that city. Mourn because there is a lack of salt and light in certain areas of the city. Mourn because the church was a place from which people went out and brought the kingdom of grace, love, and shalom to their city.

There are other questions. If your church closed, would it, should it make any difference in how your city is blessed? Do you need an organization or program to love your neighbors or serve those less fortunate? I know that there are things that are better accomplished by larger groups, but do we need them to love others and be good neighbors?

Let us, as individuals, shine our light and love those around us as Jesus loves us. Let us, as groups of Jesus followers, band together to be a blessing to our cities. Let us take the words of Jeremiah seriously and seek the good of the city in which God has put us. Let us live such lives as would cause those around us to be glad that we are there, whether as individuals or as part of a church congregation.

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