The very same people who don’t want churches to use classrooms in the public schools are the very same people who whine and complain about how bad life and society are. Just recently I heard that one of our major malls in Nashville is closing, not because they don’t have business or product, but because gangs are so bothersome and cause so much fear in the constituency that no one will go and shop at the mall.
Who are gangs? Young people who have been left alone, many of whom are abandoned, not loved, cared for, nurtured, or given a sense of dignity or respect. We cry for something to be done about it. And when brave, courageous people who are our neighbors, friends, and co-workers who, by the way, pay taxes to build these buildings and maintain them, want to come together and start a church in order to love people, to train children, and to lift society, it seems somehow as some kind of illegal, immoral, or at least bothersome business that we want nothing to do with. I could go on, but you get the point.
The second point is the most important thing, and that is the statement that, the district is helping establish start-up churches in direct competition with other churches.
Am I the only one who sees this statement as deeply flawed? Churches, number one, are not in competition with one another. Churches by the very definition are Christians. Christians follow the same God, worship the same Savior, and have ultimately the same goal in mind: to be redemptive, to be reconciling, to love people, help people, to show compassion, and to share a message of hope in a very dark and hopeless world.
Just because it has the name Baptist, Presbyterian, Church of Christ, Christ Community, or no name at all, like ours – The Gathering – doesn’t mean we’re in competition with one another. You take the number of churches in Williamson County or Nashville, let’s just say the Nashville area, times the number of people. If half those people wanted to go to church on Sunday morning, there wouldn’t be enough to house them. So this whole idea that churches are in competition is deeply false.
As a pastor in Nashville for almost 19 years, and as a local pastor in Franklin area for a year and a half, I know most of the churches and pastors in this area. I know them to be good, loving, God-fearing, Christ-honoring, people-loving people motivated by the right thing. They work hard and sacrifice. And instead of whining and complaining about whether or not they’re going to use our schools, we ought to be promoting them.
In a culture that’s disintegrating, in a society that’s finding fewer and fewer reasons to cooperate and live at peace, why would we want to limit the activity of the very organizations that have been charged by God to not only challenge us to be great citizens and good neighbors, but who lift us and sustain us spiritually? Remember we are not just emotional beings. We’re not just physical beings. We’re profoundly spiritual. A lifetime of being a pastor has convinced me of that, if nothing else. And people are starving spiritually. Watch for part 3 of this post tomorrow.