What Do People Know About Your Church?

When the men came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?'”
So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.”

When John’s disciples came to ask Jesus if he was the Messiah, Jesus could’ve easily responded with loud rhetoric proving who he is. After all, that’s the style of argument that many use today: the louder you are, the more arguments you’re likely to win.
Or he could’ve come up with a systematic theological statement that we seminary students would dissect and argue over the smallest of words until our face turned a shade of blue mixed with purple and black. (“Well, you’d have to look at the word ‘a’ in its Hebrew and Greek… you know, the original context. Just because the English language uses ‘a’ to describe one thing, that doesn’t mean Jesus would’ve used ‘a’ to describe one thing. Besides, this is 2012 where we use ‘a’ to describe almost everything that is singular. During Jesus’ time, they probably didn’t have an ‘a’ to describe things with.”)

But, Jesus simply told John’s followers to, “Go tell John what you’ve seen and what you’ve heard.” Jesus let his actions do his proving. His work with the blind, the lame, the lepers, the deaf, the dead and the poor was his answer to John’s question.

I’ve always been amused by how people (non-church goers and non-believers) describe a church in their community.

(these are actual things I’ve heard people say)
Oh, that’s the real big church with the new fancy building.
Oh, that’s the weird church that meets over there.
Oh, that’s the church that basically hates anyone who’s not a Republican.
Oh, that’s the church that welcomes gay people.
Oh, that’s the church that’s suing the other church that uses the same building.
Oh, that’s the church where all the socialists go to.
Oh, that’s the church where kids go after school to fight, because the parking lot is hidden from the main street.

I’ve heard church members describe their churches in various ways, too (again, actual things people’ve said).
Oh, we’re a family church.
Oh, we’re a Biblically based church.
Oh, we’re a church with the most amazing choir.
Oh, we’re just a small church hoping to stay open for a few more years.
Oh, we’re a church for people who don’t like church.
And let’s not go into how church-going folks describe other churches in their community.
But, I hope that we, as a church, can soon be known for what we do more than our theology or what we issues we stand for or what sins we require people to repent of.

I want churches to be described as, “Oh yea, that’s the church that serves the homeless.”
“That’s the church in our community trying to help the schools in that struggling neighborhood.”
“That’s the church that throws a banquet for the struggling people within their neighborhood.”
“That’s the church that makes our community a better place to live.”

Or something like that. You know, known more for our actions rather than our rhetoric.
I think if more Church’s took Jesus’ tactic of letting our actions (and not just our words) to show people we are a church, then, perhaps, we’d have less people using church as a scapegoat. We’ve all heard people say things like, “I believe in God, but I don’t believe in church” or “I believe in God, but I don’t need to go to church.” If the church really lived by their actions of unconditional love, then as Francis Chan writes, maybe they’ll say, “I can’t deny what the church is doing, but I don’t think I believe in God.”
If people, who never stepped inside your church, were to describe your church by what they’ve seen and heard, what would they say?
How would they know you by?

Would they even know that you exist?

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