Once upon a time there was a town with three churches.
One was made of straw, one was made of sticks and one was made of bricks.
The straw church had a lot of people attending it. It was a pretty basic building but looked nice from the outside. The people liked it because it those in charge said that everything was good and all you had to do was come to it on a Sunday and God would look after you. The leaders made rules and regulations and held meetings together but pretty much left people to their own devices. From time to time wind blew through the straw, the building rocked but because it didn’t fall down nobody worried too much.
The stick church was neither flash nor ugly. It just was. It appeared nice and solid. The people in it worked hard for God. Whenever a draft appeared they would cover over the hole with whatever was at hand. The leaders worked hard and were good people but their time ended up being spent on stopping the drafts. In the end the building became the important object. God was important but Sunday took care of that.
The brick Church was an important church. A lot of people attended it because it was important. The leaders made sure that everything looked really nice and that everything ran smoothly. If problems arose, nobody knew about them as they were dealt with behind the scenes by a few people ‘in the know.’ This church was a proud church with proud arrogant people. They knew God’s word, according to them, and theirs was the right way.
One day, a group of people from all three churches met accidently. I think it was at Food for Thought or the Ten O’Clock Cookie Company but may have been Strada or The Village Grinder. The hot choccy, coffee, tea and scones went to their heads and they felt something like a wind race around them. Some said that they even saw flames in the air. Others saw and heard nothing but felt something in their hearts. They suddenly realised that their straw church was slowly falling over, that the drafts in the stick church were letting in a cold wind that was turning people away and that the brick church had become drab and sad. They realised that very few people now went to their churches. Oh, there were the old die-hards holding on to their pet beliefs but they were getting to the stage where they were alone. Some had tried new programs which burnt for a while but then flickered and went out. They wondered what they could do. They had tried to work together but nothing had come of it. They still stayed the same three little churches.
Then a quiet newcomer to the group who had been sitting at an adjacent table spoke up.
“Why do you go to your Churches?” she asked.
“Because we are Christians,” was the reply. “We praise God and do God’s work. We make Christ Visible in the Community.”
“I don’t see him,” she said and got up and left.