Storefront Churches

Recently, while driving on a remote street in my fair city, I had the opportunity to see a sign outside a church declaring what I’d hoped to see on a church sign for a long time.

“Jesus Is Lord”

Convinced (by people better than me) that a church sign’s purpose is for outreach, I still believe a statement as simple and true as that one indicates where that church’s heart stands. In fact, an auto shop where I have work done on my van boasts this same statement on its sign out front.

Years ago, I saw the movie “Because of Winn-Dixie” at the theater. The film is adapted from the children’s story of the same name. A 10-year-old girl moves yet again to a new town with her father, a preacher. The story is funny, touching and full of wisdom.

The preacher and his small congregation meet in what used to be a convenience store, the Pick-it-Quick. Early on in the movie, Preacher is trying to make a joke about their location to keep things light (tough crowd) and says, “I don’t see anything wrong with making church convenient.”

winn-dixie-at-churchI’m familiar with churches meeting in places other than a traditional church building. And while it’s great to have a nice building in which to meet, I don’t think God cares as much what the building looks like as what our hearts look like.

Imagine some church signs or slogans for churches that meet in former businesses. No irreverence meant here. We can take God seriously and still have fun. But fair warning: I used to be in advertising and I enjoy good puns.

  • Laundromat: “You can be washed whiter than snow”
  • Library: “Lending a good word”
  • Insurance Sales Office: “The Gospel is our strongest claim”
  • Grocery Store: “Hungry for something more?”
  • Beauty Shop: “You can leave here a new creation”
  • Hardware Store: “New tools for living found here”
  • Music Shop: “We sing God’s praises”
  • Book Store: “Come curl up with the Good Book”
  • Video Rentals: “Rated F for Families”
  • Dollar Store: “More than you bargained for”
  • Cell Phone Service: “Get connected with God”
  • Used Car Lot: “Turning lemons into lemonade”
  • Secretary of State: “Get your license to thrive here”
  • Gym: “Helping you jump-start your spiritual fitness”
  • Medical Office: “Healing hearts is God’s specialty”
  • Dentist’s Office: “For a message with some teeth to it”
  • Optometrist’s Office: “Your eyes will see the glory”
  • Office Supply Store: “Loving people file in here every week”
  • Furniture Store: “We have a chair just for you”
  • Coffee Shop: “Enjoy our unique blend of truth and grace”
  • Computer Store: “The only software needed is an open heart”
  • Restaurant: “Taste and see that the Lord is good”

Outreach? Hmm.

We can meet with God anywhere. Our hearts are His favorite place to meet us. The sign we can put out front is a simple “Welcome.”

Nothing silly about that.

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Why I Don’t Go To Church

I don’t go to church because I feel comfortable there. It’s true I’ve found a home with my congregation, often coming away feeling comforted. But God shows me in a variety of ways how complacent I can become. He’s not as concerned with my comfort as with my spiritual growth.

 

I don’t go to church so I can hang out with good people. Among my associations at church, there are people who’ve been following Christ for years; others who are new believers. I also know a few who are nonbelievers. And even in my large congregation, not one of us is totally good.

I don’t go to church to fulfill my duty. While scripture encourages us to keep in the habit of meeting together, I know there will be times when I can’t be present. On the days when I am able, I come from a God-given desire, not out of guilt.

I don’t go to church to hear the great music. My church, over the years, has offered a variety of musical styles. Whether or not I like the style, my concern isn’t with the music itself, but with the words accompanying it. Within this context, I want to exalt His name.st glass window

I don’t go to church to hear a fabulous speaker. I’m fortunate that the ones in charge of presenting the message at my church are articulate and able to hold my interest. They’re trained to do what they do. But I know God can use anyone to present Truth, regardless of eloquence or religious training.

I don’t go to church because I have nothing better to do. Some days when my mood or energy level is low, sleeping in seems the better thing to do. But I’ve learned that the better thing should never keep me from doing the best thing.