I do hope that all of you have finished mourning the Steelers loss in the Super Bowl from last Sunday. I know it's hard, but I think that we can get through it if we support one another.
This morning I started reading a book that my friend Charlie got for me called Killing Cockroaches by Tony Morgan. I'm not very far into the book yet, but I really like what I have read so far. The book is all about church leadership, which is a valuable and important topic, but isn't really one that I get into very easily (which is unfortunate, considering that I hope to be a church leader sometime in the not-too-awfully-distant future. The thing that I really like about Killing Cockroaches is that it does not follow the structure of most books. There are not really chapters; instead, there are just a ton of short blips, each only a page or two. Also, instead of establishing lists of leadership principles that should be put into practice, Morgan just tells a lot of stories and asks some questions. This is helpful, I think, because stories and questions stick. Enumerations of principles are difficult to keep in mind, but stories and questions are often have influence that lasts longer and that might even change behavior. (Check this out to see more of my feelings on such things.)
One of the questions that Morgan asks that I thought was especially poignant was this: "If your church shut its doors today, would your community notice?" (15). In this section, Morgan talks about how a couple in his church gave their car to a young woman in the congregation who was in need of a vehicle, and he references how the early church in Jerusalem would sell their possessions and share one another and truly care for those in need (Acts 4:32-37). This is the kind of church life that gets noticed. The thing about the couple at Morgan's church, and the thing about the church in Acts, is that they were engaged--they were engaged with one another and engaged with the surrounding community. One of the reasons the early church was always been persecuted is because they didn't just fly under the radar, trying not to make a scene. They were noticed.
As leaders in the church (or as members of the church, in fact), it would be helpful for us to constantly be asking ourselves the question that Morgan poses. There are many churches that are doing really incredible things in the community to share the love and gospel of Christ, but sadly, there are also many that are so internally focused (what can we do to feed ourselves?) that their presence makes no impact on anyone who hasn't gone to that church since they were babies. That's not how it should be. If your church and its people vanished tomorrow (now I'm treading dangerously close to rapture theology. Whoops), there it should leave a dent in your city. The church should be as noticeable as a unicorn running through a shopping mall. Not because it pridefully draws attention to itself, but because it restlessly loves with the love of Jesus, and that love is counter to anything the world has ever seen before.
Happy Valentine's Day.