Have you ever been convicted?
You know that deep turning of your soul that reminds you of a particular action you did or should have done.
I had that experience just now. The doorbell rang, and it wasn't the very wonderful and gracious lady who has provided meals for my sick wife, child and myself for the past few days with another kind offering of great food. My daughter ran to the door and pulled back the curtain, and it was young men dressed in shirt and tie, holding pamphlets and Scripture books.
I opened the door wary and yet with enthusiastic greeting. I was immediately set-upon to shill the church these young men attend. I asked if they would then be coming to my church, as I am a pastor, too. This of course caught them offguard, shoved a few pamphlets and treated to silence and quick looks at one another as they formed the next step in their strategy.
Out came those most carefully applied words of traditional evangelism in the last 40 years, "If you were to die tonight, would be assured that you were going to Heaven."
It was at that moment that I lost my sense of decorum, laughed quite boisterously and said, "Really, that's your opening? You really need to work on that."
I did conclude with, "Yes, I am a pastor. Yes, I am assured I am going to Heaven. Thank you." Then I shut the door.
My wife, being the ever-faithful ecumenist, offered her apologetics and tried to remind me of what these young men were really trying to do. And I applaud her greatly for this, knowing full well, that if it had been her, I would have been attempting to redeem them at that moment as well.
She then offered this great line, "How scared of God do you have to be to go door to door trying to get others to be so scared of God that they would come to your church?"
And then it hit me. The moment of conviction fell upon my poor little head, and I think I know what I need to do in the next few weeks.
I had prayed for our neighborhood over the past year, and I have mentioned that I need to go visit with our neighbors. I haven't done it yet, and the time has come. God has whomped me over the head with this kind of reminder, that I have something else to offer, with an outstanding church.
I expect to spend time in the next few weeks going to our immediate back fence neighbors and saying hi, introducing myself, and asking what we can be doing to be better neighbors. I might get laughed at. I expect to get yelled at, because we have not done what some of our neighbors have "demanded" that we do. There are old wounds from the church, both ours and others.
At the end of it all, I want to remind folks that I am not there to convert them. The truth is God does that job. Mine is to help them find fellowship, and a place of sanctuary with our common space, the fence and community we share. This means we are present in those moments to help birth transforming love.
As for what I might do about the church that came visiting, my mind is still spinning.
Labels: Churchianity, Church Politics, Community Discourse, Discipleship, Evangelism, Rethink Church, SMSAUMC