When it comes right down to it, the church is in the water business...
An amazing thing happened a few years ago. It was the opening day of the University of Central Florida’s new football stadium. This new $55 million dollar facility is a beauty. It has seats for over 43,000 screaming football fans, and on this day, every seat was filled.
But something wasn’t right at the first game ever played in the stadium just outside Orlando. People were fainting. Actually, over a dozen people needed to be treated on this not surprisingly hot day in central Florida. According to news reports, emergency workers passed out free cups of water, but the hot temperatures were just too much for some people.
Sounds like a sad story. Things like this happen on hot days. What’s so amazing about this story?
I’m glad you asked. You see, the new $55 million dollar facility was built with no water fountains. Not one. According to a local fire official, “We don’t have water fountains on the property here. So going to the water stations and making purchases of water or bringing bottled water with you is paramount.”
The obvious question is: “How do you build such a massive facility (in Orlando, FL of all places) and not allow for hydration of the 40,000+ people who will be utilizing the facility?” When you add the fact that there were no water fountains, the reality that people suffered from heat exhaustion is suddenly much less surprising. The stadium actually ran out of the $3.00 bottled waters from vendors as well. The University has openly apologized for ‘underestimating the need for water’.
When it comes right down to it, the church is in the water business as well. Only we don’t serve up refreshment that comes from water fountains, we offer the Living Water that Jesus talks about in John 4. They type of water that we offer causes people to, as Jesus puts it, ‘never thirst again’.
So why is it that so many of our churches are dead? Why are so many churches declining? And why is it that many times we aren’t seeing major advances in our communities through the local church? It could be that we’ve built many of our churches without water fountains.
When week after week, month after month, and year after year, it seems that no one finds and accepts Christ in many of our churches, could it be that we’re not readily offering up the refreshment and water that they need? Are we expecting them to buy or find their refreshment somewhere else? And are we, by our actions and leadership, just getting the results (or lack of results) we deserve?
There are many churches that are doing a great job of introducing people to Christ. They are seeing outstanding results evangelizing their towns and cities, and building strong, competent disciples.
Then there are others, who, like the University cited above, need to apologize for ‘underestimating the need for water.’
My question for all of us today is… in which category is your church?