"What temperature do we set the thermostat in the sanctuary?"
You know you are in trouble when the most debated question in your church board meeting is, "What temperature should we set the thermostat in the sanctuary?" Granted, this time of the year it is hard to tell from one day to the next if we should keep the air conditioner on or turn on the furnace. This is particularly hard knowing that on any given Sunday there are going to be some in the church pews who are too hot and others who are too cold.
I believe there are more important questions we, as the church, need to focus on. We spend way too much time, energy and resources on things that have to do more with our personal comfort than with our outreach and the impact we have on the community around us for the sake of the Gospel.
So here is my suggestion. The next time you hear someone ask a question like, what should the temperature be in the sanctuary, ask them this question, "if, for some reason, our church had to close its doors this week, would anyone notice?" Apart from a hand full of people who would show up next Sunday to find the doors locked, would anybody in our community around us say; "Wow, we really miss them. We will really miss this ministry, this service to our community."
We are called to be in the world, that is, to have an impact for the sake of the Gospel on the community around us. We are commanded by Christ to care for the widows and the orphans, the outcast and the downcast. We are to show the love of Christ, not just with words, but in our services.
This time of the year many churches are reviewing and preparing their budgets for 2019. The church budget is a great place to tell whether a church is more concerned about the temperature of the sanctuary or the brokenness in the lives of those around them. How much of our church budget is spent on taking care of us? How much do we use to show God’s love as we take care of the least of these?
These would be good questions for us to ask ourselves individually as well. If you took a job offer in another community, would anyone notice? Would anyone miss the impact you have on the community around you? If our personal comfort was the priority, God would have taken us all into His presence the moment we put our faith and trust in His Son Jesus Christ. But no, having our eternal destiny secure in Christ, God has left us here to do His will — to be the body of Christ to the lost and hurting. Do we leave margin in our time, in our finances, so we can give, serve, and be available for those who do not yet know Christ?
May God help us, as individuals and as churches, live, serve and impact our community for Christ and His name sake and for the good of the lost and hurting around us.
Mike Futrell is the senior pastor at Christ Community Evangelical Free Church.