Take a while to think about the repercussions having to shut our doors would have. How would it affect you, your family, and the neighborhood? What if our doors were open, but there wasn’t much going on inside?
There was a bit of a strange feeling at Shawnee St. Paul’s one Sunday morning a few weeks ago. With the meteorologists forecasting our imminent doom many churches all over the state as well as in Shawnee were canceling their worship services. Our pastor just couldn’t bear the thought of not giving everyone the opportunity to gather as a faith family even if it meant spreading salt across the parking lots and side walks herself! Which she did along with Tim Beck and myself.
What made it so strange was the eerie feeling of emptiness walking in the building just prior to Sunday Small Groups. Even at times in the middle of the week our church can be found humming with activity and liveliness. Here it was a Sunday, the traditional day of Christian worship, and though I was grateful for those who came, there was merely half of our normal attendance. It got me thinking. What if our church felt like that every week? What if there wasn’t an excitement for worship and community?
At a previous place I served there was a time we found that the tumbler in the deadbolt to the church doors had become inoperable and we were unable to lock the doors. It was necessary to use an alternative method of securing the building. In the coming days, until we were able to address the issue, people were both startled and discomforted to find their church draped in heavy chains and padlocks.
What if we had to permanently padlock our building? What kind of impact would that have on our community? Would it make a difference? What would cause such a thing?
Sadly, there are many churches today, both small and large, rural and suburban, who only serve the purpose of being social clubs. These are places where the elite can exercise membership privileges and maintain their status as moral authorities as they share and compare the shortcomings of their relatives, neighbors and fellow church members.
On the other hand, there are churches where Christ is honored and the Bible is preached, but they are content in that being enough for them. They have good doctrine, but they have lost their passion to reach out to those needing a Savior. They are content in being Christians, but Christ isn’t recognizable in them.
I don’t know about you, but even at the slightest notion of such things I find myself very grateful for the church of Shawnee St. Paul’s, the family of St. Paul’s and the ministries of St. Paul’s.
Let us not for one second take for granted all that God is doing here. We are a blessed church indeed. The characteristics of an alive and growing church are found in Acts 2:42-47 where believers “were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to breaking of bread and prayer.” They were serving one another, and reaching out to those who needed to know the Lord, and the Lord was “adding to their number day by day those who were being saved”
That’s us, friends! We are an alive and growing vessel of God! There are many reasons to be excited and motivated to propel ourselves into how much greater we can continue to be! There is no better feeling than to serve God through love, compassion and positive influencing. We are beyond the point of padlocks and threat of turning out the lights. The key is to keep loving one another, serving our community and making a difference for the kingdom of heaven!