The visitor handed me a multi-page note. She loved our church but knew if we knew she was a prostitute we would usher her out. I went to her apartment that afternoon assuring her we needed her at Memorial Drive and many more like her. She could hardly believe it. Memorial accepted her into a new life.
This lady started life over at this place. She married and does well. So does her friend who suffered the same plight. Ashamed and depressed at how she made a living, she was suicidal. We buried her....as we baptized her into Jesus and when her boyfriend got out of prison, I did their wedding.
Churches are like people. They have peaks and valleys, good days and bad, wins and losses. What is it that makes a church successful at times and a failure at others? I would think a hundred solid responses could be given. Since it is my blog I will write about one of the crucial one hundred.
A church is sharp when it reaches out. It is dull when it focuses inwardly. (This truth applies to individuals, does it not?) Churches possessing a mission to keep everyone in the herd corrected become top-heavy with a pseudo-truth. Such a church falls into the same trap as the religious leaders of Jesus day when he wouldn't do church stuff they way they saw it.
What was it he did so glaringly errant in their sight? He disregarded religious law for the benefit of healing non-religious people. He loved the injured more than he feared the threats of the church.
Churches committed and convicted to reach society's rejects and fringe possesses a God-heart; understanding itself to also be rejected and fringe. Jesus was both.
I see a big difference in churches when one or the other of dispositions is present; reaching in or reaching out. One is sharp. One is dull. One is alive. One is dead. One is praising; the other is complaining. One is daring. The other cowers in fear. One is saved. One fears it isn't.
One is grateful for grace. The other is aggravated at those grateful for grace.
That's one of one hundred. You would add which one?