I belong to several different clergy specific groups on Facebook. At least once a week either someone in the group will post or share an interesting church sign they’ve seen via the internet. Signs like the ones below.
Sometimes the humor is as corny as contemporary Christain music...
Other times there, well, just kinda awkward...
And then there are those that make you wonder what type of people enter the building and call themselves the "Body of Christ."
Church signs can offer those passing by a building an idea of the kind of people who attend services there. Before the rise of super cool scrolling websites, church signs acted as the means of communication conveying the service times and the name of the preaching pastor. Newer signs might even point folks to a website for more information. If the church's budget is big enough and sign space is available, one might even catch a "vision/mission statement" posted for all to see. What's a mission statement? It's sort of a formal summary of the aims and values of a company, organization, individual, or in this case a church.
I saw a mission statement this week that floored me. It was perhaps the best church mission statement I had ever seen. It was simple. It was poignant. It wasn't cheesy. It had a very clear and direct theological edge to it.
But it wasn't in front of a church...
Planet Fitness, the real-life Average Joe’s Gym, beat the Church to the punch. Often times the culture in which we currently are part of gets a pretty bad rap. It's the culture's fault that families don't come to church anymore. It's the culture's fault for having sports matches on days that students could be doing mission work. It's the culture's fault for taking Jesus out of public schools. It's the culture's fault for __________ (insert your own deflection).
Maybe, just maybe, it's not the culture's fault. Maybe its the church's fault for abdicating its position to lead. "It (the Church) might have determined their success or failures, but it failed to act. It waited until government took the initiative to rescue human rights." Will Campbell in his work Race and Renewal of the Church, is talking about the church's role in race relations during the Civil Rights era. Because the church didn't act within her nature, society began to look elsewhere to hear and see what they knew to be true and right; the equality of all.
Now here we are, 2018, and the church is still missing its opportunity to lead. We're letting Planet Fitness beat us to the punch.
Lord help us. Amen.