A friend sent this article to me this morning and I found it to be pretty interesting. On the one hand I REALLY feel for this church, partly because I’ve had my own share of dealing with an unpleasant neighbor at home whose tone and demeanor strikes me as eerily similar to the neighbors quoted in this article. Add that to the fact that the church has probably had to deal with their own share of internal complaining about style, volume, etc. and I can only imagine how tiring and frustrating this must be for the church staff.
On the other hand, it raises an interesting question – when it comes to being missional, at what point do our practices begin to undermine our principles? I don’t know anything about this church other than what I read from the article, but it seems that they are passionate about reaching people and are effectively doing so in creative and relevant ways. Yet when you begin thinking missionally in order to reach people, there will almost certainly be a cost – in this case, it comes in the form of a lack of respect from (and potential to reach) a handful of neighbors (and of course now that the local media is running the story there will be a whole new set of polarized opinions about this church…some positive, others negative). And as frustrating as it may be, this church needs to be (as I’m sure they already are) weighing the cost of whatever methods they choose to use in order to spread the Gospel.
Now with that said, while I don’t think He would have gotten into an argument with anyone over 1st Amendment Rights, Jesus didn’t really seem to worry about losing anyone’s respect. He actually pretty consistently offended people by His teaching and actions. Yet his goal was never to offend, but rather to convict, to teach and to show. So I guess maybe that needs to be the metric or the filter through which we run our methods and practices in order to determine whether they are still serving our principles – does whatever it is that we are doing still effectively display Gospel priorities by imitating Christ? If the answer is yes, then by all means we must soldier on, understanding that we will get opposition that we will simply have to patiently and lovingly manage. If the answer is at all a no, then it’s time to rethink our practices.
Here’s the article: Seattle Times – Loud music at sheriff’s church rocks neighbors