I had a discussion with a man who was visiting. I had a great conversation with him, but after we finished I felt a little deflated. He had noticed that we had a large building and that we had obviously been a larger church at some point in our past. It’s only human nature to see the empty seats and assume that the church had a ‘heyday’ in the past, and assume that the church’s best day are behind us. I have had similar conversations when I have told people that I am at FFBC. As they talk to me they want to tell me what the church used to be, rather than what it can be.
G. K. Chesterton, reflecting on the Church at large wrote in his book, The Everlasting Man, “At least five times, therefore, with the Arian and the Albigensian, with the Humanist sceptic, after Voltaire and after Darwin, the Faith has to all appearance gone to the dogs. In each of these five cases it was the dog that died.”
Five times Chesterton writes it seems like the church was dying, that’s its best days were behind it, and yet it was not the Church which died, but that which opposed it. The Church at large and in the local expression will have moments or seasons when it can feel like it is going to the dogs, but it has survived and thrived again.
As I reflected on the conversation, I realised that the visitor, although well intentioned, only saw the empty seats. This is not what I primarily see. I am not sure it is what God primarily sees. I see the seats which are full of people who love God, in and through whom God can do anything. I see a church which already has so many wonderful qualities and a church full of people who have the God given potential to make a difference in our city.
This journey ahead is not a solo journey, but a community journey. It is in the context of community where aspects of faith are activated through the interaction we enjoy with one another. We inspire, challenge, and stir one another to grow when we engage deeply with one another.
Can I encourage you to keep praying for one another, and investing in the lives of one another. Let us stir one another to take on new ground for Christ. It is not the empty seats which will make a difference in our city, it is the seat you are in, and the seats around you with others from FFBC who God has called to this place at this time.