I have a new pastor at my church, and the man is on fire. Every week his broken heart and passion for lost people burns brightly in his sermons. He’s contagious, and I’m catching “the bug” worse than ever before. May we all be as “sick” as he is!
Pastor John Mark has been sharing some statistics about the area around our church. It’s located in a quaint downtown in the middle of a Bible belt town, Apex, NC. Apex is interesting, but it’s changed dramatically in the past 10 years and even more dramatically in the past 20. It was a rural town, and our church is old with generations of some families who have attended.
But growth means change, and Apex has been growing by leaps and bounds. It’s right at the edge of the Research Triangle Park which is an area that has attracted business people and scientists from all over our nation and world. It’s also in the part of the state called The Triangle which includes cities with major universities–The University of North Carolina, NC State University and Duke to name just a few. Academians and students flock here, and there are literally people from every nation, tribe and tongue living all around me.
Yet Pastor John Mark tells us that only 40% are in church on a given Sunday. That means that the majority of people around me are either estranged from the church or don’t have a relationship with Jesus at all.
That presents a Gone-To-Church-All-Her-Life-Girl with a dilemma. I can either “do church” like I’ve always done, or I can grow a heart that really and truly loves the people around me. Please don’t get me wrong. I know the two aren’t completely mutually exclusive, but I know for me personally, the two are often divorced. “Doing church” for me has meant speaking the language, doing the jobs and behaving in a way that I know will gain the respect of those around me. But sometimes I’ve gotten lost in all the doing and forgotten why I’m supposed to be doing it–out of a pure love for Jesus and His lost loved ones around me.
Ouch! I’m stepping on my own toes telling ya’ll all that about me!!
Anyhow, here’s the point. I’ve got to stop it. I want to retrain myself to speak in a way that people outside “the choir” understand. When I create a tagline or write a topic description, I want the women in the pews AND the women on the street to understand. I won’t give up all the rich, beautiful language of scripture and the church, but I’ll wait to use it when I’m teaching so that I can define and unpack and keep everyone in the room on the same page.
I have to tell you that it’s tough, because the church is my comfortable place and the souls there are my peeps. But it’s the souls outside of that building who are calling to me. My soul is finally tuning into the cries of the broken and hopeless hearts around me…and it’s them that I’m called to speak to…as well as my beloved choir, the church.