On my family’s European Adventure this summer, we worshipped at some churches and toured some more churches. When we were in the United Kingdom, many of the churches we visited were Church of England and, therefore, really an arm of the government. The churches were cemeteries for the rich and famous or places to honor national achievements. I often thought the churches we visited were just museums masquerading as churches!
In Edinburgh, Scotland, we walked the Royal Mile from the ancient Edinburgh Castle to the modern Scottish Parliament building. It was very touristy. Hundreds of thousands of foreign visitors walk that mile each year, poking into shops and learning a little history. I went into the Scottish Religious History Museum in what looked to be an old church. I looked at the displays that traced Scotland’s history from Druidic and pagan religions, through the Catholic years, and finally to the schisms that led to the Presbyterian and Free Church in Scotland. A Scottish man started a conversation with me and quickly steered it to discern my level of religious interest. I told him I was a pastor in the States and we talked a little about what his church was trying to do.
I looked in the sanctuary, which had Bible verses projected onto screens as soft praise music played, a respite from the over-stimulation outside. Another Scot chatted me up and figured out quickly that I was already a Christian. I realized that I was in a real church that was masquerading as a museum to attract tourists to Jesus.
I loved two things about my encounter. First, I’m very against churches as museums, in this country and in theirs. The second thing I loved was their use of whatever they have, location, volunteers, anything, to reach people with Jesus.
As we move into the “Forward” part of 50 and Forward, I pray we take stock of what we have and use it to reach more people for Christ. I pray this congregation is never a museum and always a church. Excited for the conversation,