Is your church a black hole in the community? That sounds like a pretty serious allegation. After all black holes are dark spots in the universe. We only know they exist because of the effect of their strong gravitational pull on surrounding stars. They are hard to find and we don’t know much about them. We just know they are not good and we don’t want to go anywhere near them. So how could a church be considered a black hole? Shouldn’t churches be a beacon of light in the world? Without a doubt the answer is yes. Jesus even said it this way:
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV)
With that as a backdrop, where I’m about to go might step on some toes, but Jesus wasn’t afraid to step on some toes from time to time either. My intent is not to say what your church may be doing is wrong, but to say what your church is not doing could be having a negative affect on your impact in your community. Sometimes the Church needs a wake-up call too. Think about contemporary American culture and the image the church has in the media and in society in general, not how the Church sees itself, but how those outside the Church see it:
That church bought that great piece of property and they don’t pay any taxes on it.
That church spent millions of dollars building a monument to themselves on that property.
That church took that great piece of property and put a gate across the entrance. What is that some kind of Christian country club for members only?
That church is open one half day a week and the rest of the time it is a black hole in the community.
Bingo! If God has blessed your church with the resources to buy a piece of property shouldn’t you make sure it is used to bless the community you are serving? Instead of literally building a “cathedral” that is internally focused on those who already believe, shouldn’t you figuratively dig a well that is externally focused, creating a comfortable place where those who haven’t met Christ can meet Christ, just as Jesus did when he met the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-26).
Beyond just the building, couldn’t your property serve your community by being open seven days a week instead of just Sunday morning? Shouldn’t those who serve the Creator of the universe be able to be as creative, or more creative, than the rest of the world in engaging culture and reaching this generation? It might take the form of outdoor play equipment, recreation fields, or walking trails. Could your parking lot double as a park-and-ride location for commuters? Could your building host boy scout troops, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, home school groups, or high school graduations and concerts? Could your church compete in the marketplace by operating the best coffee shop in town, a killer cafe, or a top notch bookstore? Is your Tax Exemption more important than the Great Commission?
I think Paul set the example for this in Corinthians when he said, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” If your church isn’t reaching your community, have you tried “all things” yet, or has your church settled into complacency and disappeared into the darkness of deep space like a black hole?