This is my office on Wednesdays:
I’m writing this as I sit in a Barnes and Noble in north Indianapolis. This is my office for the afternoon as I work on my sermon, answer emails, do some reflective and creative thinking, and catch up on some reading. I’m also observing a group of four college students looking at a total of eight screens (four laptops and four smart phones). At the same time I’m eavesdropping on a couple of loud talkers who have been conversing for the last two hours about cancer, the Mayan calendar, apocalypse, work, and what does it mean to be selfish. I also had a fun conversation about Halloween with Robert the barista (who is on a first name basis with many of the customers here).
Other places that I have been on my day out include: The public library, walking the business and retail streets downtown as well as the blocks that are populated by people who can’t afford to shop at the downtown stores, Butler University, Christian Theological Seminary, downtown Carmel (a fast growing, designer suburb), and Broad Ripple (a trendy/artsy district). Our office administrator suggested that I spend a day riding the city bus system, which is a great idea and high on my list to do.
Part of my extroversion mean that I love to be around people. It stimulates my thinking to work in an environment where I get to observe and talk to all sorts of folks. It also serves a very important purpose in my ministry.
I’ve developed this ritual that I do when I go to lunch. After ordering I don’t get out my phone, my netbook, or my e-book reader. Instead, I purposely sit there and glance around at the other people in the restaurant and I ask myself, “What does our church have to offer you?” Week after week I come up with different answers, based on my imprecise assessment of who they are and what may be going on in their life.
While the answers differ for each person, they fall into one general category. What does our church have to offer you? A lot…but we probably need to do a better job of offering it.
Our church has a lot to offer:
- Hope – the message that ultimately love and life is stronger than pain and suffering.
- Care – a community that bakes meals for each other, and lifts up those in need
- A way of life that makes a better world
- A nurturing environment where children can learn to be loving and compassionate
But I don’t think that these are the first things that come to many people’s minds when they think of church. And I want to do my part to change that.
So on Wednesdays you will find me out and about. I’ll be exploring, listening, talking, thinking, writing, observing, and asking “What does our church have to offer you?”