Is it enough to be present in our community or should we also be a presence?
It might seem that the two go together, that f you have one than the other automatically is there too, but it seems that might not always be the case.
Back in May the church celebrated its 128th anniversary, and we’ve been at the same location for over 80 years. We’re definitely present. It’s a big building on a corner lot, and it’s pretty hard to miss, even if you’re not looking for it. but lately several people have made comments that lead me to believe that it takes more than being present to be a presence.
Being a church, we get more than our share of requests for money couched in terms of incredibly heartbreaking stories about the hardships that tend to crop up in peoples’ lives (and often just as incredibly hard to believe). Obviously we’re present, because on any given day people are coming to us and asking for a handout. But then there are the people who, when they happen to see us as we worship on the front lawn, make comments like “I didn’t know that there was a church meeting here, I thought it was an empty building”, or “we thought this was offices”.
It’s not enough to open the doors on Sunday morning and expect that people will flock in. There’s too much competition that didn’t use to be there when I was growing up in NY during the time of the ‘blue laws’.
Today there’s a lot more pressure to show that the church is relevant to their lives. And so we have to be a presence. The unchurched people in our communities need to see us making a difference. And we aren’t going to do much of a job of that if we sneak in on Sunday morning, and rush out as soon as the service is over. Face it, if it doesn’t mean any more than that to those of us who regularly attend, what is there for someone who doesn’t even know what they’re looking for?
Jesus was present, but he was also a presence, if we claim to be His followers, we ought to be doing the same thing. What can you do to be a presence, rather than just be present?