A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to do my first funeral service.
It wasn't one I wanted to do. Someone well known in a subsector of the Twin Cities gay community committed suicide over Pride Weekend last June and his death sent shockwaves throughout the GLBT community and the wider community as well. The service was pretty emotional, to say the least. I didn't know this guy well, but I did know him and will miss him.
This person's death made me start wondering a lot about church and about our role in the wider world. In the past year, I've been busy trying to develop new and flashy services to get people into the church. The results at Community of Grace haven't been very positive. All of this caused a lot of frustration on my part. Why wouldn't someone want to come to our church? While I was kevetching about getting more butts into pews; there was a guy my age in deep emotional pain.
I'm not under any illusions that I or anyone else at CoG could have prevented him from taking his life. But I do wonder what would have happened had someone been there for him to talk to if he wanted to.
For the last year, I operated under the assumption that I needed to get people to church. I was wrong. Remember the Great Commission? Jesus tells us to go into the world and be his witness, NOT to bring them to church. As Christians, we are called to be in the community, to be witnesses of Christ to a hurting world.
And no, I'm not talking about sharing Bible tracks or telling people to "come to Jesus." I'm talking about entering our daily lives and being who were are: followers of Christ. It means being honest that we are Christians and being there for others. Maybe that means feeding a hungry person. Maybe it means being a listening ear to someone that just wants to talk. When we show love and concern for others we are being Christ's witnesses.
This summer, Communuity of Grace took a summer sabbatical to prepare for fall. I can tell you that the direction of church will change. Our worship services have to be less about packing them in and more about empowering people to go into their daily life at work and at play and "being Church" to others. It will be more about a church on a journey, instead of a destination.
It's sad that it took a tragedy for me to wake the hell up.
Where is the Church? Hopefully wherever there are people.