A Change in Perception - Courtesy of God
by Mike Giffin
What is church? Is it merely a place where we go on Sunday, or something that we do? Do we have preconceived ideas about who we expect to see at church and who we think are “God’s people?” I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve had that type of mindset from time to time. It’s easy for us to get into a comfort zone and think that “God’s people” are all like us - similar backgrounds, social status, economic level, etc. It’s natural for people to gravitate towards others who share commonalities. Of course, I know better than to believe that all Christians are like me… Yet that point was recently driven home to me by God.
Weekend before last, Julie and I went to Nashville for the weekend. Sunday morning we decided to go to church at McKendree – a historic old church in downtown Nashville. McKendree was nearby and I had always wanted to go there, so here was my opportunity. McKendree is a beautiful old, elegant church with elaborate stain glass windows. At some point, I imagine McKendree was a “well-to-do” church with members who had the ability to generously give money to the church.
However, the dynamics of people in the downtown Nashville area has changed over the course of time. As we approached the front of the church, there were several low income/homeless people out front who had apparently attended the early service. When we went in, we realized that McKendree was no longer this “well-to-do” church, but was, instead, a multi-cultural congregation - black, white, hispanic, poor and middle class. The church has various ministries focused at addressing the needs of the local community, such as a clothing ministry and work with the homeless. The pastor, Steve Handy, is an energetic black preacher who brings excitement to the Word of God. The members were extremely friendly to us, and many came and introduced themselves and welcomed us to their church.
At the conclusion of the service, Pastor Steve, and McKendree, welcomed a woman and her three children as new members to the church. They were living in a women’s shelter three miles away, yet this woman and her children were so committed to McKendree that they walked there are each Sunday. I couldn’t help but think that this was a true testament to this family’s faithfulness.
When we left McKendree, I felt uplifted spiritually! Any reservations I might have had as we went into the church were gone! Moreover, I saw first-hand how McKendree had changed and is reaching out to people in the downtown area. McKendree is being Christ to people in need…It is making a difference in the lives of others…
That’s the kind of Christian I want to be…McKendree has changed. Through the help of the Holy Spirit, I want to change too. I want to change any misperceptions I might have and be able to make a difference in the lives of others. I want to be able to reach out to those outside the church and help them to come and be the people of God. It all starts with a change of perception. It’s something I want - it’s something I need - to do. What about you?