Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Church Steeples

This is definitely one of those "Good grief, just where do I even begin?" days. It's 10:30 and I've already been out and back two times this morning. I have another preacher interview at 11:00, so chances are this post won't go up until sometime this afternoon.

Which is why I'm going to punctuate today's entry with a few New England church photographs.

There is something peaceful and reassuring about the message a church building brings to a community. I'm well aware that many such congregations are struggling to stay afloat, with aging memberships and dwindling contributions, but I know beyond a doubt that the void created if they disappeared would be impossible to fill any other way.

Let me share a story: Eleven years ago Andrew and I travelled to my hometown of Folkestone, England. I wanted to show him around my old stomping grounds.

The town was busy, full with people shopping and bustling around doing whatever business. But something felt wrong. Something felt odd, and out of place.

Then it hit me. There were no churches.
I knew that my old congregation had moved to the edge of town and sold the historic building to become a collection of specialty shops called "Baptist Galleries"... but what I didn't realize is that, over the years, all the other congregations had also moved out or closed down.

The town had no spiritual life and I could sense it.
The experience made me wonder: "If your church packed up business and bulldozed the site, would anyone notice?" Would your town be any different, qualitatively, if your congregation ceased to exist?

It's a good question. And, by extension, so is this: "Does your faith make any discernible difference to your life?" If you quit practicing Christianity, and if you walked away from your relationship with God, would anybody notice? Would God even notice..?

"Shine like stars in the universe..." Paul said in Philippians Chapter Two, "As you hold out the Word of Life."

I'm thinking about living like a well-crafted New England Church Steeple, or at least how it was intended to be. The message on the inside advertised by something unmistakably and eloquently pointing toward God. That something is my life.


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