Some years ago, a friend suggested that I apply for a clergy courtesy pass at a private golf club. For years the club had a clergy friendly policy that permitted ministers to play their course at no charge. So, I applied but my application was rejected, because it was noted that I resided in the wrong zip code. The community in which I lived was not far from the club, but courtesy for clergy according to their bylaws was limited to those living in a specifically defined locality. Though disappointed, I respected that decision. And, the reality is that I rarely played more than a few rounds of golf a year, anyway. Oh yeah, and when we moved to Florida from Connecticut, my wife sold my golf clubs for a single dollar in a tag sale!
Unfortunately, we live in a day when churches of every stripe are in decline across America: mainline Protestant, Orthodox, Catholic and evangelical churches are in significant decline. While there are notable exceptions to the trend, more and more churches are in decline because those who belong to them have forgotten that the church, the present manifestation of God’s Kingdom in the world today is not a private club for members only. The church founded by Christ and birthed by the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost exists to extend the grace of God to men, women, and children of every race, tongue, tribe and nation.
Maybe as we think about the resurrection hope we have in Jesus Christ this Easter Sunday, it is time to think about a resurrection of another kind, one which awakens sleepy churches out their slumber to the mission our risen Lord has called them.
19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
20 And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.
21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. John 20:19-21 KJV