We walk a fine line and my fear is that we are straying from it. In many of the churches I have visited or served in throughout my life a disconcerting things has occurred and I am not sure how we really arrived at this point. As I write I sit at a local coffee shop. I have been here several times in the last month and those that work here are starting to recognize me. Maybe not by name yet. Though I don’t know her name yet I have a favorite barista here at Moon Dance Cafe. I come here because I need to branch out and meet people. I come here because this is a place where I can make connections with people who may not know Christ. Connections that don’t occur if I stay at home on my off days. Connections that certainly never occurred when was serving as a paid minister and was expected to be in the church office instead of doing computer work here among those who we should be reaching.
I sometimes think we have misunderstood the idea of being in the world but not of the world. I don’t think I am of the world… I try not to be anyhow. I try not to worship money while recognizing the need to have access to enough to provide for my family. I try not to be materialistic, understanding that there is a difference between things I need and things I just want. But as I say that, I have to be in the world. I like certain “secular” music, including classic rock and roll, as well as more cultural music like blues and jazz. The struggle comes from living in truth and then going to far and living in a Christian bubble as if we are afraid that being friends with people that don’t know Jesus are going to stain us. We are called to live life like Jesus. But if you really look at it, Jesus was a part of his culture and society. He was Jewish, he knew and followed Jewish customs. He ate with the lowest of low… tax collectors and sinners.
So why do Christians isolate themselves behind the church walls expecting people to come to them on their terms? Most ministers spend more time and energy meeting the concerns and needs of congregation members than they do meeting and building relationships with those that don’t know Jesus. The more I think and study the more I realize it’s out of proportion and I think it is because the church is losing its touch on the changes in society. In days gone by ministers were highly revered in the community and now their ranking national average is down around the 50’s right there with trash collectors and city utility managers. Because people do not view the church in the same way it once did, we must change the approach and get to know them on a personal level. Not hiding the truth of Jesus but showing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, and self control. When we build the relationships we will have more of an open door to show them the real Jesus.
I love my coffee shop and just had a good conversation with the new owner…who just bought the business and quit an 11 year position as the athletic trainer for Crawfordsville High School. I don’t know if she knows Jesus or not but I do know she loves running the coffee shop and is grateful not to be spending football season out in the cold and rain.