Baseball is at its half-way point of the season and parity has set in. Scoring is at 20 and 30 year lows in the National and American Leagues respectively. All but a few teams are still in the race.
Tom Verducci in the July 4th edition of Sports Illustrated says, “There are no dominant teams capable of pulling away from the pack, but an abundance of thoroughly decent, if indistinguishable, teams that can hang around the pennant race.” Parity has brought what Verducci calls “the sacrifice of greatness.”
When I read Verducci’s column,I thought of the dozens of churches I drive past in the southeastern United States that are completely indistinguishable. I have never known anyone who goes to those churches. Their buildings and grounds haven’t changed in years though the communities around them have changed dramatically. They have never made their presence known in the community that I’m aware of.
Instead of being vibrant, life-giving organisms that restore human dignity and relieve suffering, they have become almost hidden in the background of our communities. To the unchurched world, they are like the wallpaper in our homes that we no longer notice. There is no discernible difference between these churches and the local Ace Hardware (which Home Depot has made obsolete), the family owned gas stations (which QT has made obsolete), or your local Kentucky Fried Chicken (which Chick-Fil-A has made obsolete). It is merely a picture of generation gone-by.
There is no emotion concerning these churches by the thousands who drive by them each day. Merely polite apathy. Churches shouldn’t want apathy. They should want to be distinguishable and impact their communities. They should want greatness!
With that in mind, the following are a five easy, but necessary steps that any church can begin taking this week to change its perception:
- Care about what your city cares about. For example, if your city is having a summer festival, have a booth and give away food.
- Open your building and parking to your community – at no cost!
- Pick a school and serve the teachers breakfast at least once a week.
- Whatever you do well as a church, be the best church in your community at those one or two things and don’t worry about the rest of your programs.
- Use your website and church sign to tell people why they should visit your church this weekend. What is the sermon about and stop the cute sayings!
These are five steps any church can begin doing today to become distinguishable. You no longer have to sacrifice greatness.
Pastors and church leaders, what are some practical things your church has done to impact its community?
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