Recently I awoke, struggling out of the wispy shadows of a fast–fleeting dream. Whether it was a nightmare or a pizza dream, I never decided. While in the kundeemner I’d felt like I’d awakened to a normal day. I’d gotten up to pursue the daily grind when I suddenly sensed something enormously different about the world into which I’d awakened.
All the churches had gone away. Mysteriously, I knew it without even getting out to drive about town. In my mind’s eye I could see — like an eye in the sky — precisely where each of the various, community churches had once sat. As if they’d lifted into the sky, all the churches and their pastors had gone. Places where they’d stood remained now as empty, green pastures as if there’d never ever been any buildings at all. It seemed as if the Grinch himself had visited, stealing not Christmas but Christ Himself from our midst.
Shocked, I realised our community had been left without a single church! How could that be? I thought, “Goodness!” I wondered, “How will this terrible loss affect the community?”
That’s when I wondered if it were a nightmare. Troubled, I began to think of how our lives and the community as a whole would be changed with all the churches having been spirited away.
First thought — people would have to do something else on a Sunday morning. What? Go play golf? Paint the house? I thought of the services — would people miss the singing so much they’d replace it by singing around the house? Would people just replace the Sunday sermon with TV preachers, if they hadn’t been stolen too? And would the TV sermon do just as much good as the local ones had?
My nightmare tumbled along. There were lots of people who didn’t go to Sunday church and their lives might be unaffected. They’d paint the house whether the churches left or stayed. I pictured the faithful, God-fearing Sunday sheep, milling about in search for a pew until finally going home to fire up the Bar–B–Que. Maybe, just maybe, their lives would still roll smoothly along — a little less clutter to their weekly schedules.
Then I saw in my mind’s eye, the pastors counselings people. Serious conversations about life’s critical episodes. If these pastoral counsellors weren’t available, what would people do? Would people’s lives crash and burn? Would the whole community falter and fail? Yet I know of so many who make it through the most extraordinary crises in life uplifted by the counsel from friends and occasionally professionals. Certainly, the vast majority of people in our town don’t depend on pastoral counselings. But then, people adept at looking for handouts at the church doors would go without.
Some people would miss the gathering of friends, regular like clockwork — but there’s the Kiwanis, the Chamber of Commerce and even Martini’s Bar and Grill where so many people meet together religiously.
Then I thought of the one, major difference in our community if, in fact, the Grinch stole the churches: Morality! After all, aren’t our churches bastions of morality —- prophetic voices holding high the banner of Love for our fellow man, conducting the business of life with honesty and integrity, treating others with human respect, restraining in ourselves and others the excesses of drug and alcohol abuse or sexual impurities? And if our church nightmarishly disappeared, wouldn’t our town be swept under a cataclysmic flood of sin?
Then I remembered the sin in my own life. I recollected the sin in other churchgoers I knew. Even more telling, I reflected on how many people I know who never darken the door of a church who are as staunchly moral and honest as most churchgoers, if not more so. The resistance against immorality and lawlessness, I realised, rested not in our church buildings but in our people — churchgoers or not.
I had finally awakened — my dream had ended. But the nightmare still troubled me. Readers — help me out here: What would truly change in your community if this were to happen? I’m not looking for pious platitudes but the kind of real-life answers that stand up to a close inspection in daylight in front of Bob’s Market or down at Steve’s Pub.
Can you list the ways your town as a whole would realistically change in any fundamental way, if the Grinch paid you an unexpected visit?
2008 by Emil B. Swift
“Kingdom Scribes” is a ministry led by Emil and Michele Swift. Their website can be found at Kingdom/
The Swifts have been called by God to minister together uniquely to the Body of Christ and share a revelatory teaching ministry – gifted in the Spirit to teach mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven in a simple, direct fashion. Emil and Michele are “Kingdom Scribes” whose hearts are to raise every Believer into living and ministering in the power of the Spirit and the Word as “scribes of the Kingdom”. A passion to engage the hearts, souls and spirits of their listeners has led the Swifts into a teaching style characterised by its lack of religion, rituals and church jargon. They minister in words easily understood by those to whom they speak.