Back in the day, churches generally speaking were essential to the American landscape. Sadly, that isn’t the case any more. I can give you a brief walking tour right in our own neighborhood of “ghosts of churches past.” The American Church is herself partially to blame for this malaise and the increasing closure of her doors. Honestly, a church “closes” long before the real act when its members close the door to sound doctrine, care less about the lost souls around them while caring more about cultural relevance or preserving its past traditions. But, let’s consider: What is lost when a church closes its doors? Well, if it’s a liberal church or an altruistic, religious group pretending to be a church, then nothing, thankfully. But more specifically, let’s ask: what would be lost if our church folded and was replaced by a house or condo building?
- There’d be one less spiritual home for the tenants of that new property and their neighbors.
- A light of a “city on a hill” is extinguished, making the spiritual darkness darker.
- Moral/social conscience and prophetic voice is silenced.
- Service that actually helps the community’s needs vanishes.
What else would you add?
Can you imagine the day when the bar owner, alderman’s office, local school councils or chambers of commerce and neighbors publicly insist on our church’s effective impact on the neighborhood? You might think: ‘Yeah, that’ll be the day.’ But don’t give up on the idea. It’s happened before in church history. Pastor Tim Keller told of this: “When Julian, the last Roman emperor, tried to revive paganism, he built temples and spruced them up, but Christianity was spreading faster than he could compete with. In the midst of this, he wrote to a friend: ‘Nothing has contributed to the progress of the superstition of these Christians as their charity to strangers. The impious Galileans provide not only for their own poor but for ours as well.’ The early Christians were promiscuous with their charity.” To sum up our series on what accomplishing the ASCC mission would look like, in the end, we’d be considered a vital part of neighborhood identity and Jesus would be unignorable through the presence of his known people. This is huge!