Why does Westboro Baptist Church exist?
- To serve as “the mouth of God” (their website) and to be a prophetic voice to a culture of increasingly “soul-damning, nation-destroying filth“?
- To attract international attention for the sake of celebrity?
- To fulfill a single family’s spiritual needs?
Again, this post is not about WBC or their mission statement. The question is essential for any church:
Why does our congregation exist?
- Because we are friends and we like to hang out together?
- Because the Presbytery/Diocese/Association/Conference thought there should be a church here?
- Because there are broken people in the neighborhood and we’ve been called to serve them?
- Because we need this community to nurture our own spiritual lives?
- Because we are an historical institution that deserves saving?
- Because our pastor needs a job?
As congregations discern how to be the church in these days of Spiritual Climate Change, many of us are trying to both determine why we became a congregation in the first place (i.e. consider our roots) and what the future holds (i.e. rethink our mission for these days).
I was admiring the gorgeous windows of a church building recently and when a member asked me what I was thinking about (my facial expression apparently expressed awe), this conversation ensued:
Awestruck Me: I was just thinking that someone must have really loved Jesus to have given these windows to the church.
Church Lady: Oh it wasn’t about that at all. Rich industrialists were competing with each other to show off how many windows they could buy and have installed with their names on them.
The churches that will thrive in the 21st Century and beyond with the the congregations that 1) know why they exist and 2) exist for holy purposes.
Image is from the Sucevita Monastery – one of the painted monasteries of Romania. According to this website “The churches were founded, in most cases, as family burial places of princes and high nobles.” We can’t assume our churches were ever about God.