if we were to disappear…

“If our church were to disappear tomorrow, who would notice?”

“If I were to disappear tomorrow, who would notice – who would come to my funeral?”

I was having breakfast with Kelly, I think, when he first brought these questions up. The questions weren’t asked out of a prideful sense of “look at how much we’re doing” or “I’ve got a lot of friends who would come”, but rather a reflection on the impact we make in the world. If we were suddenly to disappear, would it make a difference in the world around us? We talked about it for a while, and our conclusion was deeply disturbing.

Certainly for the second question, there are people around me who would notice. My family and friends would be impacted, and perhaps some of the people who meet in my house on Monday nights. There would be people at work who would notice, of course, as their workload picked up a bit. But other than that, who would really care. How many people in the community know my name. I get coffee, fast food, eat out, buy groceries, get gas – a variety of daily or weekly tasks – and I generally see the same people there every day or week. How many of their names do I know? How many of them know or remember me? Am I that bland and nondescript that the people around me don’t take notice of the life and joy I have (or am supposed to have) in Christ? Is my kindness, love and charity so common and unspectacular that nobody around me feels blessed after I’ve left?

As a church, the answer to me gets even worse. If all the members of our church were suddenly to not exist, again the people closest to them would no doubt notice and feel loss. But would our community be saddened to see us go? Are there programs we are involved in where we are making enough of an active difference that people would even notice? Is there a neighborhood where we minister, or a group of people we work with? Do we do anything at all for the benefit of people outside of our walls? Some churches, perhaps, would have the community breathe a sigh of relief if they disappeared. Why do we think our condition is much better?

Two things trouble me:

  1. Too many of our church structures are set up like a country club – for the benefit of people who are on the inside.
  2. Too often I can’t be bothered to treat others with the same level of importance as Jesus would.

My vision for our church would be that if we had to close the door, there would be a huge group of non-members and non-believers whose lives would be adversely impacted. My prayer is that we would be so vital and involved in the community that our loss would be lamented by the entire city – young, old, rich, poor. We have so far to go, but so many opportunities.

My hope for my own journey of transformation is that I would take more time – all the time – for those around me. My prayer is that I would do *something* to stand out. My prayer is that my funeral wouldn’t just be filled with people who look a lot like me. My prayer is that I will ultimately be like Jesus, and that I would draw all I encounter to Him.

2 Replies to “if we were to disappear…”

  1. Hello Jeff!
    I am very impressed by your writing! I actually joined this site because of YOU! How’s that for drawing people!?? I am very touched by your benedictions, which is what I was looking up, on the net, in the first place. Your words are words that I hear in my head everyday. It’s whether or not I pay Attention to them!!
    This blog was very interesting as well. I would rather talk to you than write you, but then our conversations would probably be useful to others. Which is why they have “blogs”, huh!!? I think these are a great idea, but this is the very first time I’ve ever written on one. So bare with me. I would like to respond to this ‘blog’, if that’s what you call one piece?
    My dream is, that even with NO WALLS to hide in, their would still be compassion and faith within ourselves. Enough to maintain any type of “Church” anyone may need. As you say… to ‘ultimately be like Jesus’, right!
    Did he NEED walls to talk/teach about his Father??? Did he REALLY NEED a steady place to ‘collect’ monies? We, the prideful and greedy humans, ‘need that’. In Reality, does He? Do ‘we’??? Think about it! God Bless…

  2. miki –

    Thanks for the comment. It’s always good to hear feedback and dialog with people. I pray that we would all pay attention to the words of Christ as they come to our hearts and minds daily, and that we would seek to follow Him in all we do.

    My hope too is that people will begin to realize that compassion, faith, mercy and kindness are much more the essence of followers of Christ than attendance on Sunday mornings. We often say the Church is really people not an organization or building, but our actions seem to contradict that far too often. It’s somewhat humbling to think about what would happen to any of us if we were placed in a situation where there wasn’t much of a church. Would we start one? Would we try to bring to our new church the same types of structures present in the churches we attend today? What would we do if we had an opportunity to change anything we wanted? These are tough questions, and ones we don’t often think about, but questions I feel are important and maybe essential none the less.

    ~jeff

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