Earlier today, I received a notice about a church having a rummage sale. That happens all the time. But, this one caught my attention because of the items being sold.
On the list of items: a baptismal, a cross, chancel furniture, hymnals, kitchen equipment, lots of table service items (plates, bowls, cups, silverware). It pretty much seems like they are cleaning house.
A few thoughts crossed my mind:
1. They have received a significant donation and are purchasing all new equipment.
2. They are shifting their focus and moving towards a seeker-sensitive approach to worship and outreach.
3. They have given up and have decided to sell every thing but the pews in order to extend the life of their congregation for a few more weeks.
In all honesty, I’m pretty sure thoughts 1 and 2 are far fetched. I suppose someone could have won the lottery and shared the winnings with the congregation. Or a sweet little old lady could have passed and left everything to the church. And, maybe the pastor was able to light a fire in the heart of the congregation and they are ready to try something new.
However, I’ve come to find that these sorts of things just don’t happen too often in churches of less than 20. It is unfortunate, but it is also realistic.
Sometimes, I look at congregations around Muncie and I wonder when they decided to throw in the towel. I wonder when they decided to forget about their communities. I wonder when they decided to give up on reaching out and make themselves the overall focus of the church. And, it serves as a reminder that every church faces the potential danger of dying out when we become internally focused. All churches face the danger of just selling stuff off so we can pay our electric bill for another month.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3)