July 9, 2012
Excerpt from 2 Corinthians 11:16-33
"Five times I have received the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I received a stoning. Three times I was shipwrecked; for a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from bandits, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers and sisters; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, hungry and thirsty, often without food, cold and naked. And, besides other things, I am under daily pressure because of my anxiety for all the churches."
Reflection by Quinn G. Caldwell
Much ink has been spilled over the decline of formerly mainline churches (that's us). A zillion reasons are given: the loss of Protestant Christianity's primacy in American culture, a loss of trust in institutions, crises of leadership, children's sports on Sundays, and on and on. Many of which are true.
Here's the real reason your church is in decline: you're not doing evangelism.
When was the last time you told somebody, somebody who didn't already know, about your commitment to God, or about the strength you've gotten from your church, or about the goodness you've found in the Christian life? How many people have you invited to join you for church in the last year? When was the last time your Facebook status had to do with God? (If your answer is sometime in the last month, please disregard this devotional. If not, read on.)
We're worried we'll be inappropriate. We're worried we'll sound like our weird cousin, or like the neatly-dressed young man that knocked on our door last week. We're worried we'll offend someone. Mostly, we're just worried people will think we're uncool.
To all of which concerns, Paul, who lived through the stuff in the passage above, replies with a long, cool stare followed by three carefully enunciated words: "Suck. It. Up."
Nobody's going to whip you for inviting them to church - especially if you offer to pay for brunch afterwards. If you're worried about being inappropriate, you almost certainly won't be. And for the love of God, why do you assume your friends will think you're less cool for going to church, instead of assuming that they'll think church is more cool because *you* go there?
God, I love this church too much to let it die because I'm chicken. I love you and my friends too much to not introduce you to each other. So make me brave, and don't let me lose my cool. Amen.
Ms. Christina Villa
Acting Director of Publishing, Identity & Communication
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland, Ohio 44115