Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Church on the Front Lines

I came across some notes I made while reading some books by Charles Colson. I thought this is worth sharing:

pp 191; Chapter “The Church on the Front Lines” [the error of our ways...]

...Too often, though, the church’s strategy for reaching those who “don’t belong” is exactly backward. Priority goes to constructing an attractive edifice in a location near a growing suburb and as far from crime-infested downtown as possible. Next come the committees organizing concerts, covered-dish suppers, Bible studies, slide shows, and the like. Then, with fresh welcome mat at the door, the members enthusiastically wait for all the lost and needy souls to come and join them.

Of course they never do. What the church attracts are the neighbors who are bored with their old church anyway, or those looking for a group with a bit more “status.” The folks “out there” have no interest in the handsome sanctuary and progressive programs and wouldn’t feel comfortable inside no matter what wonderful attractions were offered. (And probably the church members wouldn’t feel comfortable if they did come.)
Isn’t it interesting that Jesus didn’t set up an office in the temple and wait for people to come to Him for counseling? Instead, He went to them -- to the homes of the most notorious sinners, to the places where he would most likely encounter the handicapped and sick, the needy, the outcasts of society.

I am not naive enough to think the church can bridge the cultural chasms overnight. But I do know we can come out of our safe sanctuaries and move alongside those in need and begin to demonstrate some caring concern. Our presence in a place of need is more powerful than a thousand sermons. Being there is our witness. And until we are, our orthodoxy and doctrine are mere words; our liturgies and gospel choruses ring hollow.

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