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!
I am a pastor serving in my hometown of Albertville, Alabama. The greatest evidence of God's grace in my life are my wife, son, and daughter. One look at me and then my wife will tell you that her "yes" was a modern day miracle. Otherwise, I am almost completely mundane.