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Some of my stories are published in:
A Cup of Comfort Devotional for Mothers and Daughters (Adams Media, 2009)
Chicken Soup: What I Learned from the Dog (2009)
Love is a Flame (Bethany House, 2010)
Extraordinary answers to Prayer (Guideposts, 2010)
Love is a Verb (Bethany House, 2011)
Big Dreams from Small Spaces (Group Publishing, 2012)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Your Church: Attractive or Repugnant?

A few years ago when we lived in Southern California, I used to take a daily three mile walk through several nearby neighborhoods.
Most of the houses attracted me, with their well-manicured lawns, rose gardens, and tall palms.
Occasionally I'd pass a house and hear children and mothers laughing and splashing in their backyard pools.
The sights and sounds in these neighborhoods filled me with a feeling of happiness and well being.
If one of those neighbors had invited me inside, I'd have gladly come.
But there was one house along my route that upset me almost every day. Southern California weather is usually warm so many owners had their windows open.
This one house should have had its windows closed. Angry voices, complete with the most profane language I've ever heard,  assaulted my ears.
I'd hurry past that house while plugging my ears.
What an unhappy house. Why were they always screaming at each other?
Boy, was I glad this house was a mile away from my own place.
I'm sure that the neighbors who lived nearby were well acquainted with the unhappiness and strife belonging to that family.
It got so each morning I'd cross the street and hurry past until I was out of earshot.

I thought about houses in general. Big and little houses.
Churches are houses.
Churches are large families.
Do you know of any churches in your locale that have a reputation for strife, division, political fighting, unhappy, oppressed members?

Just like the unhappy family near my neighborhood, I'll bet people know that church's reputation.
And I'll bet most people avoid that church.
Who'd be attracted to a church family like that?
Christian families looking for a place to worship would certainly hear about that  church's reputation and avoid it.
Seekers certainly would not be attracted to that church.
How can a church filled with strife attract people so that Christ's mandate—preach the gospel and make disciples—could be fulfilled?

The early church grew because her disciples offered something to people the world had never seen:  Supernatural love and Supernatural peace. This kind love, this kind of peace—peace with God and peace with others— could only originate from God.
Not from mere man. Not from a feckless idol.
 But if a church is behaving just like the world, what sets it apart as better than what the world has to offer? Why even exist if God's love, His healing, His counsel, His joy, His teaching cannot flow unhindered out to a needy world?

I love my own church. It is a place of wonderful worship, teaching, and fellowship, where members collectively and individually reach out to their community and extend God's mercy.

I wish more churches would poll their neighbors and community and ask them, "How are we doing? What have you heard about us? Do the people who worship here make you curious (in a good way) about what our church is all about? Would you come here if you felt an emotional, physical or spiritual need?"

Sometimes the only way to see yourself as you really are is to ask an outsider, someone with perspective. Someone who doesn't reside in your family.

Does your house and your church attract people who walk by everyday?

"...Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." (Acts 2: 45-47 NIV Bible)



  1. Dena,
    We three appreciate your relevant message--greatly needed today. (Beth, John & I say, "Amen!" ) Hugs from here!

  2. Hi Dena -

    My church family is wonderful and supportive. They've helped me through some tough times.