I have to tell you all about an amazing experience that Bob Mennonna and I had this week, but first, some background…
While we were doing New Beginnings, a couple of things were mentioned quite a bit. First, we want to be more connected to our neighborhood and immediate community. We want to serve them better. Second, we really don’t want to knock on doors. I think many of us can understand the desire not to knock on doors. Not only is it a little intimidating to talk to someone you don’t know, but many of us have had an experience of obnoxious religious folks knocking on our door trying to “save” us. Needless to say, most of us don’t want to be those people (let me just make clear that not every door-knocking religious person is obnoxious, but we have all probably met one or two who are). The point is, for whatever reason, this scares many of us.
Last Wednesday night, Bob and I set out to walk the neighborhood. There was a little bit of nervousness on both of our parts, but we quickly discovered those nerves were completely unjustified. We discovered our neighbors are amazing and wonderful and supportive. Talking to them was not scary at all.
An important reason that I think this worked so well. We didn’t go out there with the intention of passing out tracts or converting anybody. We went out there with the intention of trying to be good neighbors and warn them of possible noise and disruptions this Sunday morning and on the 27th when we do the Nepal concert. We also gave them a means to contact us in case we need to tone it down. Not a one of them objected or was worried that we would be disruptive! In fact, I do believe many of them will at least join us for the concert (a few may even join us on Sunday!). Part of this has to do with humility. Instead of making these visits about something we have that we think they need, we made it about being neighborly and permission seeking. Many people were taken aback that a church would act this way.
I do believe that this tells us a whole lot about what it is to be a neighborhood church. It isn’t about the numbers we get in the doors. It is about being humble servants of those around us.
We are preparing for VBS and our theme is Stinky Feet (we are doing all sorts of Bible stories that are gross in one way or another). The central scripture that we are building VBS around is Jesus washing the disciples stinky feet, and the main lesson that we learn from that story is what Jesus tells us, “If I, your Lord and teacher, have washed your feet, you too must wash each other’s feet.” (John 13:14).
For far too long, the church has functioned under the assumption that we are somehow above, more loved or more saved while others are not. We have functioned in a haughty or arrogant way, thinking that we have a monopoly on the truth and that those “other” people need what we already have. I don’t think this attitude fits with Christ’s model of servant leadership.
Instead, I think we knock on doors our of humility. We ask how we can serve our neighbors. We offer what we can—even if that is washing stinky feet. We will be surprised of the amazing results and how we make connections and relationships with our neighbors—even if they never grace the threshold of the church. It isn’t about upping number or producing results. Plain and Simple: It is about Serving as Christ served us.