Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Churches, Tatoo Parlors, Quick Cash Business, and Taco Stands

Last night I went to my very first City Council meeting in the great city of Albertville. I enjoyed it, and I found it to be very informative. Unfortunately, the thing that drew me to this meeting was a particular piece of legislation that was to come before the council: it was a law that would put a moratorium on churches beginning in the city for the next six months. They would be unable to move into existing property or begin construction on a building. If this had been law four months ago, myself and New Covenant would have had nowhere to go.

I want to be clear that this is not the City Council's fault. They are merely responding to the complaints they have been receiving from the community about new churches. Currently, the city has very poor zoning laws, and you can literally begin a church anywhere. Imagine your personal surprise if a very 'happy' church opened up next door to your house with a full praise and worship band complete with a drummer who beat his instrument like it was attacking him.

I understand the concern, but I disagreed with the step suggested. So I went to the meeting to voice my concern if need be. Turns out that I didn't need to worry, the council decided that this would probably be a bad idea, and so the moratorium on churches was simply tabled.

However, and here is the interesting part, several moratoriums were not tabled. A vote was taken and the following business types were put under a six month moratorium so that zoning laws could be established: Tatoo and Body Piercing Parlors, Quick Check Cashing Businesses, and mobile taco stands. I fidgeted in my seat as each business type was dealt with individually. I kept thinking, "Dear God! Does the community see the church as a nusance as great as Tatoo parlors, Pawn Shops, and mobile taco stands!" I can only surmise that the complaint on local churches have been as vocal as complaints against those other business types.

The challenge that I have been bringing to our new church start is this: Let us live in such a way that if we ceased to exist, the community as a whole, even the non-Christians, would miss us. To that end, we have been tossing around the idea of free tutoring services for students on Wednesday, free English classes, and maybe even some free GED courses. We also would like to more involved with our local Crisis Pregnancy Center, and perhaps get involved with an organized food bank and maybe a clothing ministry. Something, anything, to do good works for Christ's sake so that the world may see them and glorify our Father in heaven. The Bible teaches that the wicked are "inventors of evil" (Romans 1:30). My challenge to you and to New Covenant is for us to be "inventors of good."

If New Covenant folds, I do not want it to be such that all the community misses is another worship service. I want us to fill a hole. How is your church doing in this regard? As for me and my house, I want us to be a place where people feel the love of Christ. We are currently lumped in with the local mobile taco stand, the local tatoo parlor, and the local quick check cashing place. That's where the local churches are as far as relevance goes. God have mercy!


Drew said...

I am praying that our church would become one such place. I believe that God can and will do this in our midst if we are faithful to the task.

I also appreciate your willingness to be honest about what the world is saying about us.

Sometimes Christians are slandered for their faithfulness but othertimes they are called out justly for their foolishness--it seems the later is the case here and that is good reason to make plans to cut against the stereotypes!

irruption said...

Great post, Brad. We need to make sure that, as churches, we are serving the community and not just sucking up their resources for our own benefit.

Keith Horton said...

Maybe while you tutor students you could give away tacos?

The Rayburns said...

Great post. We will be praying for your church as it engages the community.

Brad Williams said...

Thanks for dropping by, man!

Keith (aka Speeka),
Dude, you kill me! What a bummer were under moratorium.

Aren't you supposed to be in Costa Rica learning Espanol?

Thomas Clay said...

It's interesting that you raise the issue of the church making an impact in the community.

Matt 5:16
"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Should it be assumed that "men" in this verse are those outside of the church? If it is, how is it possible for them to "glorify" God? Could it be that it is done in the way that you are describing?

As we should be seeking to make an impact on our communities with good works, should we expect them to have a similar response to the preaching of the gospel?

Just some questions that cropped up as I read your entry.

I thought of you when I saw the story on the news last night...

Luv ya, man!