In movies, literature and life there are moments when a group of people are called to action. A crisis or struggle arises that is so compelling that the collective involved cannot ignore it.
Erin Brockovich believed that the literal health of a community was endangered because of polluted water – it was a rally cry to do something.
Norma Rae led the struggle for workers rights. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a part of the Confessing Movement in Germany determined to take down Adolf Hitler.
The list goes on and on throughout history, cultures, and situations.
Here is the thing about a rally cry – it is so compelling that the mass if not the whole has to respond to the situation.
Patrick Lencioni who is a business consultant, author and speaker writes about this in his book “Silos, Politics and Turf Wars.” He claims that too many organizations wait around for a crisis that needs all hands on deck to solve. He suggests that organizations need to create their own in order to capture the hearts, minds, and efforts of people so that the organization can operate in a healthier and cohesive manner.
Does this apply to the church? I honestly think that it does. Any “fly on the wall” observer will discover that many of our churches operate in silos; we are guilty of playing politics; we certainly have our turf. As a pastor who is in a new appointment I am keenly aware of the need to discover our sacred cows and spaces – it would be political suicide to ignore or violate them. But is that healthy for us as a church?
One of the things I know is that many of our churches have lost touch with the neighbors who are within a mile of our house of worship. Home ownership has transitioned one, two, three times or more making it nearly impossible to keep up. Couple that with the number of members who live beyond that one, two or even five-mile radius – they don’t have a physical connection with the neighborhood other than an hour on Sunday. This is our crisis – this is our rally cry.
And yet life goes on around the church building. Families are in turmoil, crisis, or even simply complacent. They have needs physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Some are searching while others are ignoring the situation hoping that it just goes away. The really bold ones are looking for spiritual answers to the common questions and struggles of life.
Communities of faith need to re-establish their connection with the community of people who live within a mile or so of the building. Our neighbors need to know that we are a neighbor who cares about them and not just spiritually; not just as a number; and certainly not as an answer to our financial concerns. Our rally cry is to be neighbors who care about their needs and struggles; neighbors who want to stand with them in finding answers, healing, and peace.
This is a call for the whole community of faith. It is not the calling or the ministry of the few but the challenge for the full body of Christ.
So are we connected with our neighbors?
What is the basic need(s) of our neighbors?
How can we share in ministry needed by our neighbors?
I firmly believe that the community of Christ followers that I lead is hearing and responding to this rally cry. By the power of God through the Holy Spirit we have the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives.
What about your community of faith? Is it being a neighbor to its literal neighbors?