This post appeared as a column in the religion section of the San Antonio Express-News on Nov. 2. You can find the paper online by clicking the image below.
Christians don’t matter much anymore, because we do so little that matters.
Let’s face it. We have always been our own biggest problem. We talk the talk but so often fail to walk the walk.
Do what I say, not what I do, right? Ha! If what we say doesn’t even matter to us, why should it matter to anyone else?
Let me share a secret with you. You ready? I’m gonna whisper, so lean in close. The world doesn’t care what we say.
We have talked so much for so long that our words have lost their meaning. We say, “Jesus loves you!” And the world hears that teacher from the Charlie Brown cartoons, “Whanh-wah-whanh-whanh-whanh-waaaah.”
Maybe we should stop talking so much. You know, disciples aren’t followers who say what the master says. Disciples are followers who do what the master does.
So what did Jesus do?
He gave his life as a ransom for many. He sacrificed himself for our sake. As his church, we should do no less. Now before you send that e-mail telling me about all the things your church does, let me ask you a question.
Are we, as the church, willing to lose money for the sake of the gospel? Lose membership? Lose market share?
Here’s an idea. Spend less money on our buildings so we can build more Habitat houses.
In place of vacation Bible school, run a summer day care for the children of working, single moms.
Dismantle Sunday school so our Sunday school teachers can spend their time volunteering at public schools.
Next time you want to fill a church staff position, use volunteers and pay the salary for a staff position in a local non-profit instead.
Imagine our city if every congregation chose to partner with the public school nearest its property. This is not a separation-of-church-and-state issue. This is simple.
Call the school office. Make an appointment to see the principal. Bring a check. Ask the principal, “What can our people do to serve your school and help you carry out your mission?” Then do it. And no matter what the answer is, leave the check.
No preaching. No praying. No proselytizing. Just serving. Don’t evangelize, or leave Bibles, or wear Christian T-shirts. Shut your mouth and help out. Not for our sake, not for the church, not even for the Gospel. For the people. Jesus said something about loving our neighbors, didn’t he?
What if we opened our property to neighborhood kids? Gave them space to play soccer or basketball or tag? I know, I know – the mess, the noise, the liability, the lawyers, the insurance. So what?
Those aren’t even obstacles. They’re just problems. Solve them. Clean up the mess. Get parents to sign a waiver. Pay for the insurance rider.
Your church has land but no money? Partner with a congregation that has money and no land.
When we begin to sacrifice for the good of others, when we give without expecting return, when we can show the world we love people for their own sake, and not for our own, then — and only then — will we earn back the right to be heard.
First we love, then they will listen. So don’t tell me you love Jesus.