“Please worship with us” followed by the worship schedule, “9 a.m. and 11 a.m.,” if I remember correctly. This is what was up on the marquee in front of Mt. Tabor Presbyterian Church which I pass every Sunday on my way to church. I also pass this church several times on any other day and see this sign with the same message, or a seasonal adaptation, many times a week. Click the chunklet to the right to see what they advertise on their webpage.
I’ve been meaning to blog this before, and I just never got to it. But today, reading Fr Milovan’s excellent blog Again and Again, I found written in his post Ad Campaign this thought:
“For two years our Pan-Orthodox Clergy Brotherhood sponsored a billboard for Pascha with the words: Christ is Risen! As far as I know it hasn’t brought any outsider to any of our churches.”
“Hmm,” I thought to myself, “here’s a brother who is also a presbyter in the Church and also honest enough to admit the obvious, that some of the ways, maybe most of the ways, that we seek to bring ‘outsiders’ to Christ are largely ineffectual and, when you think about some of them, pretty ludicrous.” His post showed a photo of a billboard that says “Big Bang Theory. You’ve got to be kidding. — God”. Any of us who live or have lived in the Bible Belt have seen this kind of billboard. After all, God’s Word is being impugned! Someone has to defend Him!
Father’s post then reproduced a news item he had seen: ‘Orthodox’ buses will drive along London streets to oppose ‘No God’ ones. You can read the article yourself by clicking the link at the title above.
What a strange mindset the Church has sometimes! As if we had to fight satan on his own turf with his own base weaponry. His principality has nothing on the Kingdom of our God and His Christ as far as power is concerned. Yet we try to combat satan on a battlefield of his choice, letting him decide where he will attack, instead of us dictating the time and place which, if we only follow Jesus, our Stratigós (champion), would be quite different, giving us the advantage. After all, Jesus has already defeated death and hell, so satan has no where to go, but down.
I’ve often wondered who’s attracted by these church marquees aping the cinemas that say things like “Everyone Welcome,” and even advertise social events or entertainment opportunities under sanctimonious titles like “praise-a-thon” and what not. We don’t have to only imagine “what would Jesus do?” to attract disciples. He is alive and as active as He ever was, right now, and “He gathers the lambs.” That’s what Jesus is doing, here and now, and that’s what we’re doing too, if we’ve got our eyes on Him and do what we see Him doing.
Can you see Him doing anything like holding up a sign that says, “Join me for worship! Everyone welcome!” Our God doesn’t hold up signs for others to take notice; He is the Sign.
Jesus did not plead or beg for disciples. Neither did He accept just anyone who came to Him and volunteered. He didn’t do it then, He doesn’t do it now. He simply looks at you very intensely and says, “Follow Me!” It’s always our choice, and the call is daily issued, and always fresh. This is where the Church needs to put away its schemes and its toys and “go forth and make disciples of all nations,” following the Lord who is walking abroad in this world, seeking His lost sheep. It’s up to us, His little flock, to follow Him, and following Him to be disciples and to make disciples of all nations. That’s His call, that’s our calling.
As He said, “Let the dead bury the dead. Come, follow Me.”