Three years ago when I was first introduced to Westminster and we began to “flirt”, the image I was getting of this congregation was unique. As I did some research and talked with others, I learned that there was a lot of potential held within the congregation. This is very true! But one of our greatest strengths is something that many in our congregation never get a chance to see; that is the connection that we have in our community.
For those who were around on the fourth of July, you witnessed the community that came to us. But even at that you may or may not know why. A big reason for this is Betty and her persistent work to help our congregation be known in our community, but it is also a general good feeling that our neighbors see in our congregation. In fact, it is our hospitality that makes many in the community see this as their church, even if they do not come.
This is one of the problems of the modern church. Many people see the church as a central part of the community, but it is not something that they understand or feel they need to be part of. This is something that is not unique to our community and is one of the great debates going on the church today. Most theologians discuss the current state of the church and our country as Post-Christendom, making a demarcation between a time where the church was in power and there was a level of personal necessity (not just spiritual) to going to church.
This is also a problem in that many churches define worship as the act of worship rather than a mechanism and a way of life. In other words, for much of the Christian world, we narrow the definition of what the church is, while the greater world knows less and less about us. This often makes the church seem irrelevant, because often what people are seeking is not what we or anyone else is offering on Sunday morning.
This is where we are unique; in a Post-Christian world we maintain relevance in a very Post-Christian way, through our hospitality and welcoming nature. This was evident in that great day last Friday where we were able to be center in the community by creating a safe, welcoming center for a party that was incredible. And while some took advantage and never gave a second thought, many left thinking about what our little church did, and we planted a seed that we know God will do something with.
As a congregation we sit in a unique time in a unique place, but we cannot deny that God is doing something, it may just very well be something that we never expected or even dreamed of.
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen