iChurch: All We Like Sheep
by Skye Jethani
I don't drink coffee but that hasn't stopped me from using the Starbucks across the street from my church as a second office. I sip my overpriced beverage in the armchair near the window. On this afternoon I was meeting Greg and Margaret*—members of our church I'd worked with closely for the last few years.
"We've decided to leave Blanchard," Greg started. "For two months we've been church shopping." Church shopping—where did that dastardly term come from? I thought while gazing out the window at the swarm of suburbanites fluttering between The Gap, Banana Republic, Barnes & Noble, and Williams-Sonoma.
"We really love Blanchard," Margaret added to soften the blow. "It's been a great church for our family, with a wonderful children's program. Greg and I really like it, but our boys are teenagers now and they prefer the music at Faith Community*." I took a sip of my preferred drink—a tall, no whip, Tazo chai latte. Maybe I should have gotten the low cal, non-fat, grande Earl Grey, with Splenda.
Margaret continued, "Faith Community has so much to offer our family, and I think it's really important to go someplace the boys like. When your kids are teenagers, you'll understand." Having played the evangelical trump card (the kids), Margaret sat back in her chair believing no further discussion was necessary.
"What are you going to do when your boys leave home in a few years?" I asked.
"I'm not sure," said Greg. "Maybe we'll come back to Blanchard."
"I hope you don't," I replied, meaning no malice. I did, however, relish the stunned look on their faces, if just for a moment. "I hope that you commit yourselves so fully to Faith Community—building strong relationships, serving with your gifts, participating in its mission—that you could never see yourselves leaving that church. I really believe God grows us most when we are committed to a community."
For the next hour we had a difficult but edifying conversation about their decision to leave. Then I prayed for Greg and Margaret in the middle of Starbucks, and watched from my chair by the window as they drove away in their SUV, a chrome fish on the tailgate.
About The Author
- Tim Atchley
- Knoxville, Tennessee, United States
- I currently serve as Senior Pastor of Harvest Church in Knoxville, Tn. I was sent out from Trinity Chapel of Knoxville in 1993 accompanied by my wife Sheila our four children Sarah, Hannah, Josiah & Isaac and a handful of bold, brave and committed believers determined to plant our first church. Pioneering is hard work but well worth the journey. That is why we desire to make disciples of Christ who will, like us, also embrace the call to plant churches.