I recently heard a story about a pastor of a large, but dying church getting in a taxi cab and driving down the street. The pastor did not tell the taxi driver who he was or what he did and asked him to drive him to a place that was near his church. When the cab was passing the church the pastor pointed to the church and asked the cab driver, “What do you think goes on in that building?” The cab driver responded, “I think it is a hospital or something…. no one really knows what that building is or what goes on in there.”
This church at one time was a well-known thriving church in the community that sought to meet the community where they were and present Jesus to them in a way that the community understood. However since that time that church stopped reaching out and completely lost their identity and effectiveness in their community. About 6 months ago the church shut their doors and have ceased existing as a church.
This got me thinking. When people pass your church what do they say about it? Sadly, far too often in our community churches are only known for the church that resulted from a split, or the church that has split 2 times in 5 years, or the church that only cares about money, or the church that (insert negative connotation). I have a friend who is starting outreach at a church that is over 100 years old and he went around passing out flower seeds with a card that says God loves you on it. His church has a huge steeple on it and when the sun hits the steeple correctly it casts a shadow on a neighborhood. My friend went to this neighborhood and when people were stunned by this outreach they instinctively asked him, “What church is this that would do something so nice” he said, “The church that casts a shadow on your home from our steeple” Multiple people responded, “oh, that’s a church… never would have known”
Somewhere we have lost our connection with the community. So how do we get it back? We meet the community where they are with a distinctive identity. For the past year we have went out and met the community where they are and have gone out with a mission to serve people to show them Christ’s love with no strings attached. We wash toilets, pass out free sodas, do free car washes, rake leaves, gift wrap. etc. all with a card that says “God loves you there are no strings attached.” in the pass 2 weeks we have passed out almost 1,000 glow necklaces in our community at football games and on Halloween night. I have people asking us, “are you the glow necklace church?” we say “Absolutely we are”
We are starting to build an identity within our community. We are not completely there yet, but we are starting to hear people say things like, “oh this is the soda church or this is the church that washes toilets for free just to show people God loves them” and move away from “Oh this is the church that (insert negative connotation)” Jesus was someone who understood his culture and his community and he was well-known in his community. He did not shy away from meeting people where they were, better yet he mastered it. He created an identity of being the Son of God through his beautiful teachings and his miracles. This might sound cliché, but churches can learn a ton from how Jesus experienced culture and did not shy away from it, building himself an identity that showed people he truly was the Son of God. Read Matthew 9:10-13 with this in mind.
If you are in the Weatherford area come help us create our identity within our community. We have 128 winter survival kits that have chap stick, facial tissues, cough drops, and a card that says God loves you in them. We will be passing these out to lower-income apartments around Weatherford. Meet at the church @ 10am.