Last night as Todd and I lay in bed we got into a discussion about the church. We actually arrived at that topic when I told him about a Honda car I owned during my early days on staff with a para-church organization in San Diego. The car had served me well relocating me from Alabama to Colorado and then California. My car was old and had what seemed like a million miles on it but it was a great car. A few weeks after starting a new ministry at UCSD I left a dorm evangelistic Bible study I was leading around 10:30 PM. Within a few minutes of leaving the campus my car died. I didn’t have a clue as to what I should do other than steer it to the side and walk in the dark to the nearest gas station with a pay phone. This was in the day before cell phones. It was late. It was dark. I had only been in SD for a few weeks and other than my para-church campus director I had no one to call. I put my quarter in the pay phone and dialed my campus director. He had recruited me to San Diego to minister at UCSD and lived about 2 minutes from my present location. My apartment on the other hand was inland and about a 25 minute drive. I felt bad calling him so late but had no other choice. He answered the phone. Hi, this is DuAnne. Sorry I am calling you so late. Was on the way from my EBS (it was great by the way) and my car died. I don’t know what to do. What should I do? His reply: “Call a tow truck.” Long Pause. Me: OK. Sorry I called so late. Click. As I write this I wonder who was that girl? Who was I? I had just moved to a huge city where I had no family or friends. I had no church. (except for the para church group who believe they are a church.) I was a missionary living on faith. I was supported by individuals and churches who wanted to see college students hear about Christ. I was broke and living on a very low income level. My diet consisted of at least two rice meals a day. Most of my incoming funds went to housing and such. There was no emergency fund. In other words I was broke. I was from a non-Christian home and made a commitment when I left Alabama that I would not call my parents for financial help. I believed God would provide all of my needs. Learning the difference between needs and wants is another story. As a young woman in her 20’s I had so much to learn about life, especially faith, trust, relationships and what the church is according to Scripture.
When I got home to my apartment in Mission Valley I spent the majority of the night praying. Today this issue seems so small to me ( a dead car and no money) but back then it was a big deal. When morning came I remembered there was a girl from my church in Birmingham that had moved to San Diego. I called my Birmingham church and they gave me her number. I didn’t tell Sallie all the details just that I wanted her to refer me to a local church in the area. She gave me the name of a PCA church ~ New Hope Presbyterian Church. New Hope was a small church with less than 100 people attending each week. The pastor, Rev. Andy Noch answered the phone. I spared him the details of being flat broke, scared and having zero relationships other than the campus staff I worked with. I only told him I was new to San Diego and was in a little bit of a jam with my car. I never told him I had no money. God had told me during prayer through the night that he would provide without me making my need known. Andy immediately offered to send a member of his church to take a look at my car. Long story short they fixed my car. When I asked for a bill for the parts and labor they refused to give me one. This was one of the first lessons of many I would learn about what it means to be a church without walls.
Many churches today are in trouble. They are unengaged and uncommitted to people in their community. They have become more interested in the needs of those within their walls than those outside. Their primary purpose is to serve their own members not reach those who don’t know Christ.
The New Testament church was without walls. They understood that they were to bear witness to the world, to live among unbelievers, serving them, revealing Christ to them. Ministry depends upon every believer. We are to use whatever we have to serve God by serving one another and our neighbors. We are to be salt and light. They will know us by our love.
How about your church? Is your church without walls?