What places in your town do you get excited about? Where I live (North Austin or Cedar Park to be exact) people were fired up about the Costco that recently came. There were lines to sign up and overflow crowds on the weekend. Before that the Cinemark movie theater created a buzz in town. I also remember excitement as Starbucks came into our area a few years back. Often I see people “liking” Walmart on their Facebook pages and a steady stream of traffic at Sonic during their drink Happy Hour. No doubt these are great places, but what about church? Wait! Don’t stop reading, I know for certain the church offers some things that the others do not which makes it special.
I don’t know about you, but I’m growing tired of posts, articles and blogs that write, all that is wrong with the church. Things like, why people are leaving them, how they are losing the millennial’s, what the church is doing wrong and what the church is lacking. Have you seen these types of posts and articles? Enough about that. What about what the church is doing RIGHT? What about what the church HAS. I’m not about to give up on church or be down on the church and I hope you won’t either.
I’d like to share my feelings on why I believe the church is unlike any other business in town. For me, my experience happened (so it seemed) by accident. The first Sunday of the year, I came to The Ridge just to attend church. Not as a pastor, just an attender. For me to go to church and not be doing anything is really different – I felt like fish out of water! I kept thinking, “Shouldn’t I be doing something?” No, I’m just here to attend,” I reassured myself. I got to hang out, take more time to listen, laugh and not worry about where I had to be or what I needed to be prepared to say. It was nice. Then, I observed something that Sunday that impacted me greatly.
Here’s the scene that unfolded before me. In walks a couple as first time guests. They were not like most in our attendance that day. Some might call them a minority, even though we have people from all races and social standings, this couple was different than most. However they were warmly greeted by our Hospitality Group. It was discovered soon after that they needed someone to interpret for them. Someone was found to interpret and did so in the hall ways and through the service in the auditorium. Also it was discovered that they had some needs and were down on their luck since moving here recently. A group of people, some from Hospitality and some from the Prayer Group listened to them by way of the interpreter, then cared for them, prayed for them and hugged them. Soon the members of those groups represented had collected some cash to give this couple, bless them and help them in their time of need. It was around $100.
I began to ponder the following: Where else in town would total strangers be treated that way?
Could you go to Costco, walk in without a membership card and be served? I’m not a member and I’m told by others I wouldn’t be able to get in the door, much less shop. Yet we warmly welcome people that are not “members” every week.
Walmart’s slogan, is “save money, live better.” They do have good prices, but does Walmart give money? Not that I’ve seen, not without some paperwork or a drawn out process. Yet the church freely gave to those in need, even people they just met.
Would you be able to go the Movie theater, walk in, sit in one of their comfortable chairs and watch the show? Not with paying the admission first! Yet at our church, anyone can come in without paying any admission, sit down in our comfortable chairs and watch the show.
Starbucks has great coffee. People love to go there but I don’t see every new guest getting a free cup of coffee at Starbucks. Our church has free coffee, yes even Starbucks coffee for our guests.
Sonic is busy with activity like our church, but I have never seen employees at Sonic stop what they are doing to listen, care and pray for someone that is hurting, have you?
I may be missing something but I believe the church offers what no other business in town does. We offer hope, acceptance, help and love with no strings attached. And most importantly we offer “Christ in us the hope of glory.”
I hope you can be excited to attend, love and support your local church. If you don’t have one, I’d like to invite you to mine. I think, It’s the best place in town!