My life is committed professionally and personally to the growth and development of the church (both little “c” and big “C”). Because of that, it might seem counter intuitive that I would be passionate about closing the doors one Sunday out of the year. The church where I worship and serve has done this for the last two years and will do it again this year. It is part of our “Go and Be” weekend that we don’t hold regular scheduled worship gatherings as part of the weekend but instead focus on being out in the community serving.
My passion for this stems from both an organizational and educational perspective. It is an organizational challenge to plan, prepare, and mobilize to be closed on Sunday. There are real financial issues of not having a time of offering. What about the people who are new to the community or maybe trying church for the first time and they see that our doors are closed? The issue is that we don’t just want to close the doors but open up service opportunities. Those opportunities remind us that we are the church and the church is at its best when is engaged in the community serving.
From personal, educational, and teaching perspective, some of the best lessons I have experienced come from giving practical application to ideas or principles. The principle that the church is not the building comes alive when we see the doors locked and God’s people still gathering in service. I love explaining to my children why today is different from every other Sunday…much like on Easter, Christmas, Good Friday, or any other special moment in the life of the church.
Closing our doors helps us to create a conversation that is desperately needed in the life of church culture. It is largely symbolic but symbols are important. If you don’t believe that try removing a cross or a steeple or an American flag. Symbols communicate powerfully what is important. For the other 51 weeks in the practice of gathering together, we meet at the same place and for all practical purposes do the same thing. The rest of the world moves along pleased for us to practice what we believe in our places of “worship.” But what happens when those places or worship move into their backyards, their business, their schools, their homes, their hurts. Just maybe we will begin understand on a deeper level what Romans 12: 1-2 means when it says, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”