Imagine that you move into a new city. Just down the street from your new house is a building with steeple and a cross and a sign which reads “Community Church”. On Sunday morning you and your family walk to this building at the time indicated on the sign. You file through the doors, where you are greeted and handed an order of service. You find your way to a seat and wait with others while soft music plays in the background.
The meeting begins with someone welcoming you and your family and other “visitors”, and then quickly transitions into a time of music. You recognize some of the songs and sing along. Other songs are new, but you quickly pick up the tune and begin to sing on the second or third verse. One song in particular speaks to you and the frustrations that have been brought on by your recent move. An offering is taken to support the activities of this Community Church.
Next, someone teaches from a particular passage of Scripture. The teaching makes sense and the speaker is entertaining, but overall the message of the teaching is not particularly meaningful to where you are in life. You agree with everything the speaker says, but find your mind wandering to things that are pressing on you at the moment.
At the end of the service you are again addressed, along with other “visitors”, and you are all encouraged to make Community Church your church home. Several people shake your hand and introduce themselves as you all make your way out of the building, into your cars, and back home or to nearby restaurants.
That afternoon, while you are unpacking some of your boxes, someone from Community Church drops by. You had dutifully filled out the “visitors” card, so you were expecting this visit. The gentleman is nice and polite. He apologizes for interrupting you and asks if you have any questions about the church. You ask him why the church calls itself “Community Church”. He tells you about the different activities available at Community Church, encourages you to “join”, offers you some material, then dismisses himself graciously.
As he drives away, and as you return to your unpacking, you wonder to yourself, “If Community Church is a true community instead of a community in name only, what would I expect of them? How would I expect them to act towards me and my family, as outsiders? How would I expect them to act towards one another? What would I expect to happen on Sundays? What would I expect to happen other days of the week?”
How would you answer these questions? [By the way, I’m not saying that this fictitious group of believers known as “Community Church” is a community in name only. Instead, I’m asking what would you expect from a group of people that was a true community and not a community in name only.]