From Pastor Tim...
We have neighbors who used to have a split rail fence around their back yard. They removed the split rail fence leaving only a gate standing. It’s an interesting landscape feature and works well in their yard. Imagine someone walking up to that fence-less gate and, seeing it closed, they stop and go no further. The gate after all is closed blocking their way. A friend walking with that person chuckles and says, “There’s no fence, only a gate. We can walk around it into the yard.” To which the person replies, “No, the gate is closed. We can go no further!”
Churches often see a closed gate rather than a fence-less gate when it comes to challenges they experience. In so doing they see the challenge as a roadblock rather than an opportunity. It seems to me that churches tend to concentrate on the finiteness of the problem rather then seeking a solution to the problem. In the process the safety of standing behind the closed gate is preferred over the adventure of walking around the gate. Here are three (not so) imaginary scenarios.
The closed gate: “Well, our giving is down so we have to make some cuts.” Walking around the gate: “Well our giving is down so let’s address that challenge because stewardship is a spiritual issue.”
The closed gate: "We are part of a mainline dying denomination so our future is not bright because our church will die with the denomination.” Walking around the Gate: “Our denomination may be dying but our congregation is alive!”
The closed gate: “Culture is changing and church just doesn’t hold the priority in people’s lives it once did. More and more people just don’t go to church anymore.” The open gate; “See all those non-churched people in our community? What an opportunity! Let’s go meet them!”
So, what do you do when you find yourself standing in front of a closed gate? Do you stop and go no further? The healthy way, indeed the faithful way, is to embrace the adventure of walking around the fence-less gate. I pray we do so! Happy adventures!
-Rev. Dr. Tim McQuade