As I browsed the Sydney Morning Herald’s web page a feature article took my eye: Masses Find Spirituality Beyond the Church Pews. It was written by a well-known Australian celebrity who addressed her remarks primarily to women. Her article began like this:
One bright and brilliant Sunday morning, I stood in a tent on the banks of the Brisbane River in front of a 300-strong throng who’d come to see, touch and hear Aussie favourite William McInnes speak about his latest book. Looking at the sensible, middle-class women and the few men who had gathered, the thought came to me, why aren’t you lot in church . . . Traditionally, church homilies addressed some of the moral issues women faced—mostly dilemmas of faith and family—but they didn’t meet the desire for a true engagement in the wider world beyond hearth and home. The notions of “what if” and “why not” were never on the agenda. Although “because I say so” was a well-worn theme.
When was the last time your church board seriously considered the impact of your church on your community—both negatively and positively? Would the community notice if you just disappeared tomorrow? Really?
There is a strong indictment here. It is directed at us. Are we really listening to the voices of people like this all around us? Are we so sure we know what they want that we are not stopping to consider how they want to hear what we have to say. Articles like this must give us pause as we realise that for vast numbers of people what we offer is not meeting the spiritual quest of their hearts “to meet the desire for a true engagement in the wider world”. When was the last time your church board seriously considered the impact of your church on your community—both negatively and positively? Would the community notice if you just disappeared tomorrow? Really?
Dr Barry Oliver is president of the South Pacific Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.