Again and again over the last few weeks, God has shown me how little impact the church has on the culture. First it was Good Friday, when we had our Tenebrae service and at the same time, the Little league was going great guns across the street. Our parking lot LOOKED full, but it wasn't from people wanting to experience the bittersweets of Good Friday worship.
Then again today, the air show at the base began at 9AM, and the F-15 demonstration team acrobatics began at 11:30. I was talking with someone who had retired from the Air Force just a few years ago and he said, "that wouldn't have happened 5 years ago. They'd have waited until after church worship was over."
Our church is healthy relationally, active spiritually, and needy monetarily. Almost every church around us is bigger, has more facilities, staff, etc. But none of us is doing squat when it comes to reaching lost people for Jesus.
Tonight, we had a business meeting where we talked a while about the usual events planning, membership bookkeeping, and money. We need more. The cost of doing business is rising steadily, and income isn't keeping pace. The good people of New Hope in attendance stepped up and challenged each other to give more, to pray more, and to enlist others to do the same. It's obvious they love their church and its staff, and for that I am very, very thankful. My wife and I love them dearly.
But we may be on separate paths.
Their concern was to do what it takes to handle the financial emergency so we could keep things going as they are.
My concern was to do whatever it takes to handle the financial emergency so we could change things and become exponentially more effective in reaching people. That would ultimately involve selling our buildings and becoming the church that meets in the elementary school and in homes.
We're in a building now that seats 130 with a budget that needs 200. (based on what the average Baptist church member gives) Our money takes care of us by and large - not doing ministry, but Me-istry. And that's increasingly an issue that God won't let rest in my heart. I can't be simultaneously ineffective at reaching out and spectacularly effective at taking care of those already here. I can't enjoy this awesomely loving and giving group of people here, because I keep seeing the faces of the dead people outside, yet to come.
It is precisely at this point that we've arrived today.
And I go to bed now with a sense of loss.