Tuesday, August 28, 2007

No Charge!

Because the local church is such a vital part of my life, I can’t pass a church of any flavor or denomination without taking notice. As a result, I have found several things that irritate the snot out of me when I drive by some houses of worship.

For example, at Christmas time I always get irritated when I drive by churches that have well lit manger scenes in the front yard that include the Wise Men carrying their gifts from afar. Folks, listen, the Wise Men didn’t come to the manger the night of Jesus’ birth. Shepherds? Yes! Wise Men? No! They came months later when Jesus was more of a toddler. How do we expect our culture to get it right when our churches display it wrong? How ‘bout it fellow churches? Let’s get it right this coming Holiday Season!

Another thing that I can’t help but notice is the “stupid” sayings that churches put on their signs. It is a rare time that I see a saying on a church sign that excites me. I sometimes think churches forget that the majority of people who read their signs are unbelievers that drive by daily. If first impressions mean anything, than our ecclesiastical signs probably do more damage to our efforts to reach our communities than they do any good.

But the number one thing that I see outside of churches that bugs me the most is when a major community oriented event takes place in a community near a church and the church uses it as an opportunity to make money by charging people to park in their parking lots. What are we saying to our communities when we charge them money to use our parking lots to attend weekly sporting events? What misconceptions about the church are we feeding when we collect a certain dollar figure per vehicle to park in our lots while attending community festivals and fairs?

Thanks to so many television evangelists with bad hair pieces constantly begging for money, the world already sees the church as a place that is only interested in people’s checkbooks. Is it really worth a few dollars gain to our coffers to cement that same perception in the lives of people who are already leery of the church?

Instead of charging people to park in our holy lots, why don’t we try a vastly different approach? Don’t charge a penny. Let’s serve our community instead of fleecing them. Let them park for free. In fact, why not go one step further? While they are enjoying the game or the event, give their car a complimentary wash, wax and detailing. When they come back and try to give a donation…refuse it. Let them know that you didn’t do it for money, you did it to genuinely demonstrate to them the love of Jesus.

You know what will happen? Your church will become the talk around the water cooler that next week. News of your servanthood will spread like a wildfire. Then, the next time Christmas or Easter rolls around and these same folks begin to think about making their once a year pilgrimage to be with the “steeple people,” you just may see a few of those same cars back in your parking lot on a Sunday.

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