In the late 1800s, a man who had failed as an entrepreneur in the glass industry, took a job working as a lighthouse operator. As was the practice of lighthouse operators, his family moved into the lighthouse and participated in the daily tasks associated with his job. His wife, having come from high class society, had not yet grown accustom to such a switch in circumstances. She was accustomed to elaborate parties and gatherings with friends and neighbors of like social status.
Occasionally, she would still throw the small party or gathering on the grounds as an attempt to appease her inner displeasure with the hand that life had dealt them. But after each gathering, she would have a request for her husband.
For her first request, she desired to have more light in the dining area of their home when they had evening dinners and in an attempt to please his wife, the lighthouse operator affixed a small mirror in the lamp room of the lighthouse to shine directly on the center of their dining table. The feature was incredible. A pitcher of water became a flameless light source all by using the light from the top their home.
Life went on like this for weeks and months. A party and another request. A family gathering and another favor. Pretty soon there was light shining down on a small area in the yard used for dancing, one in the kitchen for those late night snacks, one in the closet because it was so hard to find things. Light from the tower was being diverted for all sorts of various uses within the home or around the home.
But one day, the owner of the light house received a letter of complaint from the president of a shipping company that used the waterway located near his lighthouse and immediately the owner decided to make a surprise inspection of his lighthouse.
To his dismay, the light that was supposed to be shining for the safety and warning of ships passing by was being stolen for the comfort and convenience of those who were keeping the lighthouse. They had become so concerned about their own level of happiness and satisfaction that they had ceased to care about those who were in the tumultuous seas that were about to be dashed upon the rocks.
They had been so concerned with keeping the light within the lighthouse that they forgot that the light house was built for the purpose of shining out into the darkness.
It is a grave concern of mine that the a vast majority of churches in the United States, have become like the family in this lighthouse. Far too often, we are content with shining the light upon our areas of comfort and we forget that we are supposed to be shining out into the darkness and warning those that are about to be dashed upon the rocks.
In order for this problem to be remedied, there are a handful of steps that we need to take:
- Grow Passionate about The Gospel – The Church needs a fresh understanding of the Holiness and Righteousness of God. This will feed our understanding of the depth and darkness of our own sinfulness. Then we will begin to grasp the enormity of God’s grace in sending His son to take our place. When that happens, our passion for those that are in the same position we were in grows exponentially stronger.
- Grow Beyond the “Come and See Mentality” – The “come to our church event and we’ll show you a good time and share the gospel and if you fit our mold you can join us” mentality is no longer the best method of reaching those that are outside the church. The reality is, the church is no longer the social hub for community activities. The community has begun to create its own activities, the church just forgot to adapt to the change. Yes, we are to be a lighthouse but a lighthouse doesn’t glow, it shines into the darkness. We must go out into the world and show them that we care for them and are not just trying to proselytize them.
- Grow Honest about Ourselves – This is probably one of the more difficult things to do. We live in a culture where everyone lives public lives of perfection. With that being the case, it is incredibly difficult to admit that we don’t have it all together. But, people want to hear that because they know they don’t have it all together. They want to know that the people that attend church are struggling in the same ways that they are. When they truly see that is the case, then they are more inclined to hear about the hope that we have in spite of the circumstances or struggles that we are facing.
Is this list complete? No. Does it encompass every level of what we are supposed to be focused upon? No.
But these are just a few of my suggestions for the church, what are some of yours? In what ways can the church begin to adapt to the ever changing landscape of reaching those whom our Lord and Savior died for? How can we become active in this calling to reach our community and not just passive?