There is a little girl at the church I attend who loves to play “Here is the Church.” She folds her tiny hands and forms a steeple with her index fingers while she waits for you to recite the old nursery rhyme,
“Here is the church. Here is the steeple. Open the doors and see all the people. Close the doors and let them pray. Open the doors and they have all gone away.”
It is a catchy little phrase and adorable to watch as little ones complete the hand motions and squeal with delight. This simple rhyme is certainly not intended as a basis for ecclesiology, but I do wonder if this is how some communities view their churches. To these communities, are churches simply buildings where people gather, close the doors, and then go away?
During the past few months the foster care crisis has continued to receive news coverage. Many sources shared of the high turnover rates that Child Protective Services is experiencing and they issued an urgent call for more foster homes*. There are children right here in Dallas County who are sleeping in CPS offices because homes could not be quickly found. They have great needs that are not being met.
If our local CPS offices were to write a rhyme about our churches, what would it say? Unfortunately, right now, it might say something similar to this:
We drive past the church. We can still see the steeple. I open my car door and take out three tiny, hurting people. I buy them dinner with my own pay, and I make call after call trying to find them a safe place to stay.
Oh, where is the church? Where are God’s people? Are they not called to care for these exact people? I set up three cots for an overnight stay, while I call my own kids to let them know that I won’t be coming home today.
Ouch. That is not how the Bride of Christ should be known in our communities. Thankfully, we can rewrite this rhyme. Each time you drop off cards, meals, snacks, or necessities at a CPS office you are helping to rewrite the rhyme. When you boldly open your home to the hurting, you are rewriting the rhyme. There are churches that have started the rewrite, but we still need more. You can join them during the month of June for our CPS appreciation outreach or connect with other ways to help. As we come together and serve, this could be the rhyme that is written:
We drive past the church. We can still see the steeple. I open my car door and take out three tiny, hurting people. They are greeted with gifts and meals the church brought today, and I pull out my long list of safe homes where they can all stay.
Here is the church. They are God’s people. Churches are much more than buildings with steeples. They are right here with us every day. They are the ones giving, housing, serving, and sharing God’s love in such meaningful ways.
Let’s rewrite the rhyme.