Monday, December 23, 2013

In Need of an Eye Opener in 2014

And straightway there fell from his eyes as it were scales, and he received his sight; and he arose and was baptized- Acts 9:18 (ASV)

Paul got an "eye opener" after he had his run-in with Jesus on the road to Damascus.

Many of us do not even see it that way, though.  

We see Paul's encounter with Jesus on the road as the eye opener.


That was just the shocker that got homeboy's attention.  The eye opener did not happen until he had been humbled due to to being rendered dependent on the care of others, particularly the folks around the way on a street called Straight.  That's when things started to come together and make sense for him.

I find that the local church may need more of an eye opener than it would care to admit in such an age of enlightenment and information sharing.  We have websites with plenty of popups and other bells and whistles.  We have lots of folks giving us a thumbs up and liking the pastor's latest status updates and photo mashup uploads.  Yet, we leave a whole lot to be desired right in our own midst.

When was the last time that the church just invited the visitors from the past quarter or the past year just to come and have fellowship with the pastor? I mean like cookies or cake and punch like a party without the dog and pony show.  I am thinking that we could invite some of the folks who just recovered from years of battling alcoholism or imprisonment, even widowers and former battered wives, to share their testimonies of survival and victory through faith and trust.  let those folks and their testimonies serve as the keynote addresses and let the pastor simply invite the attendees to join in prayer, then let them meet with a prayer counselor or elder of the church- however you do it in your church or congregation- to share their decision to join or to seek more answers about salvation, church and being a Christian.

Something like that may be the breakthrough that we have been awaiting.  The sound system and the projected song lyrics on the big screen are indeed impressive.  In fact, I love seeing that.  But the "true riches" that Christ spoke of will not  be reached and placed in our possession (under our stewardship, rather) if we do not stop for a moment and address our own blind spots to get those around us to come to know us as more than holy hypocrites.  They need to see that we are flesh and blood just like them but the we have the favor of faith that is also readily available to them, too.

Imagine if our local churches took on the role of community center and resource center more than simply just worship center.  What would alter and change in your community? Would your pastor still be seen as the guy who talks about Jesus and God? Or, would people in your community come to know Him as a servant of the Lord and a true man of God in their opinion? It is all in how outsiders view us that is considered public opinion.  How we view ourselves is called "self image." We do not get an eye opener from looking in the mirror or leaning over and telling our neighbor on the pew that we are doing great and doing God's work.

Open up your hearts and mind, then begin to open your doors, so that you have a new image in the community where your church is located.  Maybe you won't change the community in one day, but you surely can change the community's perception of you and your congregation.

For more insights on this please read my article on local visitors and the local church.

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