I just returned from California for the BCS nat'l championship game in Pasadena. Yates went with me and we had a fun trip; really enjoyed spending some time with church members Yana Ulmer and Tommy Claborn while there. And while it's always tough being away from home, I can't really say I missed the experience of single digit weather back here in sweet home Alabama. I'm definitely NOT a cold weather guy ... can't stand it ... my body revolts and I just become a big wimp!
The weather in California during our trip was absolutely gorgeous ... highs in the mid to upper 70's, lows down around 50. And California (at least parts of it) are stunning! Mountains, beaches, sunsets over the Pacific, farms, deserts, forests, etc. all contribute to a most scenic land. We traveled both up and and down the coast a bit from LA and enjoyed the beauty. And contrary to our expectations, the people of California were very kind and welcoming ... a very friendly people. There is always something new, something amazing, something fun, something beautiful to experience in California. And did I mention the weather?
While I have no desire to actually live in California, I can truly understand why so many people do! I really do "get it" about the appeal of living there. Of course, there were also the obvious signs of the consequences of the fall of man, of the brokenness of the world ... gnarled and congested roadways, men urinating at street corners, smog, etc. In the midst of the beauty there's the ugly as well.
This whole experience very much reminds me of the church - at least of what the church ought to be! Do we present something so appealing to the rest of the world that they want to "populate" our churches? I realize that only the Holy Spirit draws people to Christ, but He does use various practical means to do it. The preaching of God's Word and the fellowship of the saints are two primary tools that the Spirit continually uses to draw people into His family.
When folks out there see and think of Community Presbyterian Church do they see and experience something of what I did in California? that CPC is a desirable place? that beauty exists when and where God's people gather together? that the "climate" is more than comfortable? that the people are friendly? that they "get it" as to why people are involved in the church?
Now don't get me wrong - anyone exposed to CPC will also get a good dose of sin, the fall, and brokenness. But if we handle this brokenness with grace, forgiveness, mercy, and love this can actually be a part of the beauty and appeal of what the church has to offer the world!
We'll all agree that the world needs the church. It needs to see the wonder and beauty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let's pray that CPC becomes the kind of place to which the world is drawn.