Would Anybody Notice?

If this congregation were hit with a devastating plague, or its membership fell victim to an unexplained sinkhole during worship, or it just suddenly decided to stop functioning as a church, would the community around it notice?

Even if the building remained, would anybody notice that the parking lot was now always empty, the lights always off? 

More importantly, would the community suffer from the loss of this congregation? Would anybody even notice?

Or would it be business as usual, except that the grass would need mowing?

As Christians, we are heirs of the Great Commission – we are spiritual descendants of the apostles and those whom they converted two millennia ago. They are gone, and so is their evangelistic capability, and all that remains is that we should imitate their zeal and strive to fill the gap.

While this community might crave entertainment, employment advice, nutritional assistance, educational opportunities and daycare service, what it really needs is religious enlightenment (Acts 18:9-11).

The early Christians were accused of having “turned the world upside down” with the doctrines of Christ and the resurrection and the New Testament (Acts 17:6). There can be little doubt that preaching that message today would have the same effect, but if we are content to keep it locked up inside our cozy meeting house, it is unlikely to have much impact at all on the community. Surely, we will be letting our lights shine in kind and neighborly ways, but perhaps not in any obviously evangelistic sense.

What if this congregation just picked up and moved? Moved to a different part of town or took up residence somewhere secret? What if it ceased to exist? Would the community we claim to serve even notice? What have we been doing to get their attention – even if that attention is treated negatively and is rejected because of unbelief or discomfort with biblical morality (Acts 19:28-34)?

Too often, the church considers its building to be its evangelistic outreach into the community. We built it, now come! To the community, however, the building might just look inaccessible and foreign, until perhaps someone ventures forth and issues a cordial invitation to visit.

What will impact this community? Social services are not part of our mission and do not provide any satisfying impact. Spiritual information, the scheme of salvation, moral growth – that will have impact. A knock on a stranger’s door. Even literature hung on a doorknob or dropped on the mat.

And prayer. 

Barring a plague, sinkhole, or the second coming, we’re not going anywhere, but if we did, would anybody notice?