The library door is locked. For months I peeked through the window at the treasure within. I wondered, "How can I get in there? What books are on the shelves?" I made friends with the janitor of the church that we are attending. He showed me where the key is kept. It sits on top of the electric box in a storage closet. I can get the key and take what I want from the library.
Books by Beth Moore, Max Lucado, and Adrian Rogers sit on the shelves. The covers are new. The pages uncreased. There is a sign out sheet on the desk. My name is the only one on the sheet. I have checked out and returned And the Angels Were Silent, Six Hours One Friday, Walking Through the Fire, Signs of Spring. Last Sunday I pulled out and put back books, looking for an interesting read. I came home with Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Church. The binding crackled when I opened the book. Am I the first person to read this copy? How long has it been sitting on the shelves?
Rick Warren writes about creating a church that reaches the unchurched...a church that assesses it methods and motivations...a church that throws aside all that hinders spreading the gospel effectively...a church that is both culturally relevant and uncompromising in truth. Our family has been blessed to spend the last twelve years at two churches that are all of these things. In this season, God is giving us a glimpse at a different kind of church.
This church is run by deacons who have been the deacons for the last thirty years. People have been born to the comittees they serve on. I recently got a phone call from a member of the Committee of Commitees! Sunday morning the You need to be saved gospel message is preached...every Sunday morning. The congregation is harangued with messages of how sinful they are...how they need to straighten up and fly right. Like a used car salesman, the pastor tries to propel people to come forward to repent, to be baptized, to join the church. No one comes. No one joins. No one visits. The congregation grows smaller.
Ideas are guarded, personal growth is limited, biblical knowledge is stunted in part because the library door is locked.