what really counts
I read about a church who wanted to expand. They began talks with another church (of another denomination even) about the possibility of working together. It was a win-win. Church A wanted to expand their ministry, church B was struggling and would get an instant boost. But, after several conversations, the idea did not materialize and both churches continued as they were.
Fast forward about 10 years. Church B made the difficult decision to close their doors. So they approached church A. They said, "We are unable to continue our ministry. While we aren't completely sold on the way you do worship, or the way you do a few other things, we have seen what you do in our community. We have seen you feed the hungry, not just talk about it. We've seen you build up broken communities, we've seen you help the poor. So we want to GIVE YOU OUR BUILDING so you can expand ministry."
What a testimony this church made. They didn't just talk about what to do, they did it. They built a reputation of being the church in the community. They became known for being followers of Jesus who were being Jesus in the community.
It didn't happen overnight. Some churches would have been sorely disappointed when the initial merger didn't go through. And they probably were too. But instead of licking wounds and asking God why, they acted out their faith. And the community was changed.
Where does your community see your church? In your building? On your lawn? On the streets of your town? Feeding the poor? Talking with the homeless? Serving the hungry? They're watching...