Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Witnesses to the Ends of the Parking Lot

Sunday afternoon, I made an interesting discovery about the ground just past the parking lot behind HJ’s (St. Andrew’s youth center across the street from the church). It’s very rocky – no doubt a residual effect of putting in the parking lot years ago.

I learned this the hard way: by trying to plant a series of “realtor signs” at the edge of the parking lot, running along the Trolley Track Trail, a jogging and biking path. Our Evangelism Commission came up with the great idea of posting “Burma Shave signs” visible from the trail, as a relatively inexpensive way of inviting people to check out St. Andrew’s. Like the old highway billboards advertising Burma Shave, this series of signs presents a short poem ending in the name of the “product” (in this case, the church). For example:

Searching to find…
… what life’s about?
We are, too …
… come and find out.
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church (http://www.standrewkc.org/)

Going the other direction, the signs read:

Think going to church…
… isn’t for the smart?
God wants your head…
… not just your heart.
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church (http://www.standrewkc.org/)

Will this have any discernable effect on our attendance or membership? I have no idea. But it’s a good object lesson in how to do that frightening “E” word – evangelism. As Jesus was about to ascend to the Father, which we remembered in our worship on Sunday, he told his friends he expected them to be his “witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). That’s a tall order – and rather intimidating for many of us. Sadly, maybe, I don’t see myself traveling to the ends of the earth to win souls for Christ.

But maybe that’s not the point. Maybe what Jesus had in mind was simply that we would be his witnesses wherever we find ourselves. I think sharing the Good News of hope and new life really doesn’t have to be much more complicated or frightening than simply finding a way to bring God into your story when life presents the opportunity. We don’t have to go door to door or stand out on the street corners. When we talk with people in the course of day-to-day life, we just have to drop into the conversation the divine fingerprints we’ve seen on our lives, in whatever situations have been true for us.

For St. Andrew’s, a series of Burma Shave signs along a neighborhood jogging trail is a great example of taking an evangelistic step that’s authentic to us. We’re not accosting people or pushing flyers into their hands. We’re inviting them to see that we’re struggling with life and faith just as they probably are. It may not be the greatest evangelism program of all time. But hey – we’re serving as Christ’s witnesses to the ends of the parking lot, at least.

No comments:

Post a Comment