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SGtoDC: Can I get a Hard Hat with That?

February 11, 2010

Creamy nougat. Is it just me or is that stuff delicious? A little Brach’s Valentine Nougats with a cup of coffee. So good. You just need to be careful because at times the wrapper gets stuck in the nougat and if you aren’t you will find yourself at some point saying, “That’s not nougat and it isn’t creamy,” or something like that and it will adversely affect your creamy peppermint experience.

That is all I’m saying. But hey, since that just happened we will have to move on and get to what I really wanted to discuss today. I’m going to do a little movie jump here. I hope that is acceptable. I’m not sure what the rules are but I really need to pull another movie reference in to make this work. So here it goes and I hope I’m not breaking any rules of writing, though with how I write I’m sure I do. I’m sure I misspell words and misuse them so why worry about jumping form one movie to another, right? Good point.

The line is “If you build it, he will come,” and I’m sure you know the movie. Bull Durham. One of my all time favorites. I know I know, it wasn’t really Bull Durham. Can you at least give me an A for effort on trying to be a little funny today? I know it was Field of Dreams. (You were scared I was going to try another one weren’t you?)

No, in the movie Field of Dreams the voice whispers that if you build the field they will come. Who the they are turns out to be long dead baseball characters, his dad, and an entire caravan of cars that are going to some how make this whole endeavor work.

James Earl Jones ensures Kevin Costner’s character that it is true. “People will come Ray.”

I guess Ray wasn’t the only one who heard that line. “If you build it they will come.” How many church building programs have been launched with that one? Sure we may not directly quote the whispered voice of Field of Dreams. No, it seems that Nehemiah will more likely do.

How many flash prayers have been sent? How many requests made for an attentive ear and an observant eye?

I don’t know, have you ever wondered how many times the story of Nehemiah has been invoked for a building project? I wish someone kept stats. I’m sorry, I’m having trouble connecting the broken down walls of Jerusalem to the fact that a youth group doesn’t have its own high-tech sound stage with a built-in retractable roof. Are you saying we feel great shame because our sanctuary isn’t state of the art? “I mean look at those fluorescent lights?”

I get it. You can’t just allow the building to fall down around you. I understand that we need to take care of what God has blessed us with. I know we use our facilities for many good causes. What does concern me is the Sicilian choice that is foisted on congregations that say if you build it they will come.

If you go into debt and if you want to spend your time obsessing over how you are going to cover the mortgage and keep people coming and happy and, well the list could go on. I have ran into too many churches that are struggling financially because they thought building something new would bring people in.

I have seen too many churches do pledge drives only to watch the building fund fall short when the pledges didn’t arrive. Why? Is it really because of Nehemiah’s wall? Are we really in the same position?

What is our obsession with buildings? Why do we constantly believe bigger is better? Now I’m not saying we can’t knock a few walls down or modernize what we have but, what if more people don’t come to Jesus because we built something new? What if we only sap the energy of the already saved? Then what?

No this brings us to our second way to be an un-attractioanl church.

Wouldn’t be cool if I had the Count from Sesame Street to count these down? I wish our blog had a bigger budget is all I’m saying. I can almost here him now, “two ways to be an un-attractional church ha ha ha…”

So here you go. The second way to insure you are an un-attractional church. Don’t change a thing. That drip in the hallway from that leak you can’t manage to find? Don’t worry about it, it’s only mildew. That carpet that came in during the 70’s Bee Gee’s craze? Just wait it is coming back around.

I hear you, you think I’m going to extremes. My point is that if you are doing building improvements to get more people stop. Sure you might want to keep the building from collapsing around you. You may want to update your children’s area. If your idea of technology is Etch-A-Sketch then it might be time for an upgrade. But guess what, don’t do it for the sake of people. When you add one Wii the church across town will add six.

Here is the deal. I know of a church in the area that saw 60 people either baptized or restored in Christ last year. You should see their building. It is a wreck. They have started on upgrades. They have repaired bathrooms and remodeled the sanctuary but that was only BECAUSE of all the new people. It wasn’t to attract anyone.

No, stop trying to attract people with your building. Start using it to BE Jesus in your community. Make it a destination for those around you. Make it a place they want to go because they experience the love of Christ. You will love it when they actually show up on Sunday. Not because they find your facilities attractive, but because they found WHAT YOU DO and WHO YOU ARE to be attractive.

Something strangely Jesus about those last thoughts.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-25

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 1 John 4:7-12

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