If your congregation disappeared tomorrow, how long would it take for your community to notice?
Notice I didn’t write, “If your building disappeared tomorrow…” A building is not a local congregation and a building is certainly not the Church. A congregation is comprised of the Christians, the disciples of Jesus, who are a part of that local expression of the Body of Christ.
What if the disciples of Jesus who call your congregation and mine “home,” were to suddenly disappear? How long would it take for our communities to notice our absence?
This is a very hard question I ask myself on a regular basis. It was passed down to me from others and I freely pass it on to others. It’s a fair question, but it’s a difficult question.
There is a temptation to dismiss this question, because we don’t like the implications of it. One implication is the assumption that our communities should even know we’re there at all. If your philosophy is that the Church exists only for Christians, then you can’t answer the questions because it’s nearly a nonsense question.
If you are part of the tribe I am—believing the Church’s mission was given by Jesus in Matthew 28:16-20 and it’s to make disciples—then the question has to be answered.
The wisdom of Scripture tells us in Proverbs 29:2:
When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan.Proverbs 29:2
New International Version
This means if we’re doing well as Christians, all around us will rejoice. Why? Because they’re happy for us? That’s not the point of the Proverb.
They will rejoice because our open-handed generosity spills over to them. Our fortune is their fortune. Our blessing becomes theirs.
In contrast, “when the wicked rule” there is a very different response. Why would people suffer under Godlessness? A quick look a history will tell us, Godless rulers will take things from bad to worse for everyone.
Like all things in our lives, our righteousness is a blessing to others. We do not live in a vacuum with no impact on others. Scripture makes it clear, the people of God are a blessing to their communities, regions, and nations.
So again, I ask: if your congregation disappeared tomorrow—if YOU disappeared tomorrow—how long would it take for your community to notice the absence of the righteous blessings of your life and mine?