Pastor Kelvin enjoyed his monthly leadership team meetings, but he wanted them to stretch the budget just a little. So he decided to lead off a brainstorm
“In this world of instantaneous mass media, we must get our message out to connect with people who have no church they can call home. We have been blessed with a prominent site in the middle of town, but we are not taking advantage of it.
“Way back in Habakkuk’s time, God was aware of attracting those who pass by – quickly with little time to think! In his second chapter and verse two, it says. ‘Then the LORD replied: “Write the revelation and make it plain on tablets so a herald may run with it.” And an alternative reading adds extra speed to this passage: “So he who runs may read it!”’
“That means something that will instantly catch their point of interest. We need a new billboard that uses various messages to grab people’s attention. We have the greatest message of all, and we need not be shy of it. But we need to be sensitive and inviting, because everyone is constantly tuned in to their own personal radio station - “WII-FM: What’s In It For Me?”
“Jesus was so aware of this reality. That’s why he never used the same approach with everyone. We all know he told an Irish theologian Puzzled faces rapidly turned his way! “Nic O’Demus” – Okay, just checking if you were listening - that he must be born again. But that was the only time; and even then Nicodemus’ brain got in the way by getting locked into obstetric details!
“Let’s think for a moment about how he dealt with others, where he explained or demonstrated how to be born again…”
“The woman with the blood-flow?” asked Helen, who always kept meticulous minutes.
“Well, she needed social reintroduction as much as personal healing.
“What about the lepers or crippled people?” Old Frank frowned…
“Exactly the same,” replied Kelvin.
“And Zacchaeus?” Ben was always
complaining about his taxbill.
“Jesus invited himself to lunch with this man who was isolated by his job, his questionable ethics and his height. A shared meal in that culture meant being welcomed into a family, which drew Zacchaeus into a transforming generosity,” Kelvin replied.
“The woman caught in adultery?” murmured Edith, whose heart was bigger than all outdoors.
“She needed to hear his acceptance above the clamour of a biased crowd that was baying for blood, before he told her not to sin again,” explained Kelvin.
Almost on cue, Winston the nerd could be heard: “I move that we act on our pastor’s vision; with a computerised LED moving display, so messages can be right up to date; or changed quickly; and out of reach of any would-be vandals.”
“I’ll second that,” Gerry chimed in.” I like that LED idea. Imagine our wrestling with individual letters and losing one. We might find ourselves proclaiming: ‘Here there is no vision the people perish,’ when we meant: ‘Where there is no vision…”
Everyone agreed, and the church responded with such willing generosity that within a few weeks the billboard was a community talking-point for the clarity, the wit and the warmth that people sensed from behind moving LED messages like:
"Our Sundays are better than McDonalds!"
"Praying is so simple that you can do it
with your eyes shut!"
"You don’t believe in God? He believes in you!"
"God loves you – just as you are. But he loves you too much to leave you as you are."
"You never stand taller than when you stoop to help someone in need."
"Come to Church; there’s a free gift in here for you."
Unchurched people started taking notice, especially as they found that the welcome inside matched the messages outside. And they started spreading the word among their other unchurched friends – without needing any LED display!
The billboard’s prominent position lifted the church’s profile dramatically, but an unexpected lift to the credibility of its care came when it began to use the facility to quickly display details of emergencies or crises that affected the local community from time to time.
It all meant more work for Pastor Kelvin and his leadership team, but they did not mind a bit …
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