By Steven Norris
“What was it that prompted you to join this church?” I posed the question to Ed and Mary, members of our former church in Western North Carolina. To be honest, this couple stood out like a sore thumb in that very unconventional Baptist church. It met in a renovated barroom, after all. The music was unabashedly modern, the worship leader having been a former heavy metal guitarist.
Ed and Mary, on the other hand, were anything but modern. In their nineties, he was a World War II veteran — his platoon had landed at Normandy on D-Day. After returning from the war, he worked a factory job at the bleachery in town. He had served as the Superintendent of Sunday school for the historic First Baptist Church in town for more than twenty-five years. Likewise, she had taught preschool and worked in the children’s ministry for decades.
Now, here they were, core members of a new church start that didn’t seem to fit my expectations for their personal style or preferences. Ed considered my question, sat back, cleared his throat, and said, “I know where I’m going. I just want to do whatever I can to take as many others with me as possible.” He said that he had seen the possibility inherent in that new congregation for reaching people with the gospel and he wanted to be a part of it.
Wouldn’t it be great if the church was full of more entrepreneurs and risk-takers like Ed and Mary — people willing to get outside their comfort zones and live boldly for Christ? Too often, churches become paralyzed by “the we’ve always done it,” or they don’t do anything because they are afraid to fail.
Along with Ed and Mary’s example, maybe the church needs to be reminded of the words of the Apostle Paul: “I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
I believe that God is looking for a church that isn’t afraid to make mistakes — that isn’t afraid to be looked at sideways and isn’t afraid to fail. I believe that God is looking for a church that is willing to take chances for the gospel and is willing to risk looking like complete fools for the sake of the gospel. The gospel truth of God’s love for us in Christ is the anchor that can set us free to be the church that this world needs. Do not be afraid.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been talking about the kind of church I dream about and would love to see. What about you? I would love to hear from you. Email me a description of the church you dream of to email@example.com.