As part of the Christmas narrative we often hear the words of Isaiah proclaiming to make the hills low and to build up the valleys in preparation of the Lord’s coming. He was sharing these words to God’s people in exile and then later this theme was used by John the Baptist in introducing Jesus’ ministry. Of course, this passage may be good for us to hear these words again today.
In the last two years I have had the opportunity to serve with two churches in Virginia doing interim preaching. Both congregations are very caring and supportive groups. But I have noticed that in their sanctuaries that their blinds or curtains are closed during the worship service. They may be trying to keep the furniture from fading or to make sure that the sun did not heat up the area so that the air conditioning doesn’t have to work so hard. But for someone outside the church it seems that they are telling them that they are not interested in what goes on outside in their community. It is no wonder that they are not doing much in their community around them. In a way it conveys the message that they don’t care – a potential roadblock to better effective ministry. This subtle snafu is also causing the congregations to lose sight of the world that they need to reach out during worship.
Instances like this got me to think about what other ways we may need to look at church and the messages we give out to those who need to hear the Good News. Any one of the following questions could be factor in why we may need to do a better job in making the rough places plain.
- Is your church’s website up and current?
- What does your building say about your church? Is the image it gives off a fortress from the world or a refuge for sinners?
- Is your signage outside the church faded and need of repairing?
- Do church members wait for guests to open the church door before they greet them? Who is making the first move in engaging in a welcoming conversation?
- When people do come inside the church, can they find the places like the sanctuary, children’s area or bathrooms without asking somebody?
- When you say that all are welcomed, are ALL welcomed – tattoo, pierced earrings and noses, long or dyed hair, singles, the down and out in your community as well as the up and in, etc.?
- How safe is your church? (read more about this point in the next article)
To repair many of these obstacles and more would not take huge sums of money. But the dividends to your church could be great! Other times it may need someone with a fresh set of eyes to look and offer healthy ways to take down the roadblocks you have set up. If so, give us a call! Don’t delay your road construction!
These thoughts above are from Steve Zimmerman, the founding partner in the ministry. He works alongside churches in their mission process and small group dynamics. He coordinates the work of the partnership out of Danville, Virginia. For more information about how he can help you, contact him at 336.214.3958 or firstname.lastname@example.org