There was a UMC commercial a few years ago that had a family at the table in a wonderful home. The youngest daughter looked out the window and saw a man who was hungry. She got up, grabbed a card table and took her plate overflowing food, outside and invited the man over to share in the food. The family, still inside, saw their daughter and became moved by her charity and they then got up, took their plates, and sat around the outside table and invited people to share in their lawn. The voice over said something to the effect, "what if the church had no walls?".
Everyone at the conference this was shown loved it.
I threw up.
I know this is a fictional situation and these days a daughter would not be allowed to do such a thing. But the message is not about strangers and kids, but about a church without walls. I get it and I think that is great. However the message is not at all what the commercial is showing.
If you you move the table outside and still expect people to come to the table, does not mean you have a church without walls, it just means you are not requiring people to walk through a door to have access to the table.
Rather, if we want to be a church without walls, we need to be willing to scrap our tables and take the food to people rather than expect people to come to our table.
Will we in the Church get it? It is not about just putting new spin on an old model, it is about hitting the restart button and finding new models for being the Church.
Is the church leadership and laity willing to let brick and mortar close in order to open up new tables in the homes of the people? Are we willing to let our pensions go in order to ensure a church can have a minister? Are we willing to move to bi-vocational ministers?
I do not know if we are up for the challenge but I am hopeful that we will be able to see that just setting up a table outside and expect people to come to us is not an innovative way to be Church.