I felt like Odysseus recently, traveling from island to island, facing various monsters and opponents as I went in search of a handful of tools I had been seeking to own. As in the stories from The Odyssey, the encounters I experienced seemed to center around the idea of hospitality or, more precisely, customer service. Last time, I shared my least troubling encounter. Today, I’ll be sharing my adventures on the Island of the Low Conversers.
Just to bring you back up to date, rather than seeking to get home to Penelope on Ithaca, my Odysseus-like quest had me off trying to buy an air-powered stapler. My search took me first–before yesterday’s encounter with Megan of Sutherland’s–to another island. I do not want to be negative and name this place, besmirching their reputation among my myriad readers. I will note that this building supply depot is not at my home. Instead, it is the Island of the Low Conversers. (Get it?)
Struggling ashore at this island, I made my way through a forest of plumbing supplies where I did not find what I sought. Then, traveling by dead reckoning toward the front of the store–or island–I ventured into the perilous Aisle of the Air Tools. They had many treasures, mostly chained and zip-tied to the display. Clearly the lord of the Low is security minded. After pushing past finish nailers and framing nailers, I spied my quarry, the elusive crown stapler. I tried to take the tool from the display to inspect it, but was foiled by the zip-tie. Still, I determined, this was the item I wanted to own.
My eyes jumped around looking for a non-display stapler to buy. None were found. Then I decided to seek the help of one of the locals. Three residents of the island stood not 20 feet away. They knotted together and talked. And they talked. And they talked. Clearly, they were either utterly unaware of or apathetic to my presence. I could have interrupted their super-important conversation, but I elected not to.
Let’s consider what this has to do with the church and leave this belabored Odyssey parallel alone. Not long ago, I had a very pleasant conversation with two fellow deacons in the time before the Sunday service began. It was good to talk with Kevin and Michael, but I recognized that we could have made better use of the time. We could have been meeting new people or catching up with others. Instead, we just stood there and talked among ourselves.
How can a church hope to be better than Amazon if it isn’t connecting with potential “customers.” People can be ignored while streaming a service on their computer. Why would they get in their cars and visit the bricks-and-mortar church only to have the Low Conversers ignore them. That apparently wasn’t what the early church did:
Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple, and broke bread from house to house.–Acts 2:46
The church is not intended to be a place where the insiders gather up and ignore the outsiders. All that Lowe’s–er, make that the Island of the Low Conversers–lost was a smallish sale. We as a church can stand to lose immeasurably more.