Clear-Paned Missiology

At one of the congregations I serve, there are huge windows lining each side of the sanctuary. Without fail, every time we have guests come and speak from across the conference, they mention these windows. You see, they aren’t stained-glass. They are simply huge panes of clear glass, and they are indeed beautiful.

Out the north windows you can see the high school across the street, a small rental house, and a large wooded hill beyond. To the south, you can see the parsonage, several homes, and oftentimes people walking on the side street.

Apparently, in the past these windows were something like stained glass. They were thick, yellow, and had giant draperies hanging around them. However, when they were replaced the church bought the huge clear panes. Stained glass would have been nice, but it simply was too expensive. Little did they know, they were making a theological statement.

Far too many churches have a stained-glass missiology to go with their opulent stained glass windows. Rather than constantly looking out at the world beyond, people can only contemplate what’s on the inside. Today, in my sermon, I described the beatuy of those windows and the striking image they present of who we are called to be as a church. We gather together, worship faithfully, and listen to God’s call, ever mindful of the world outside the walls.

If we only care about what goes on inside, we’re like a sports team that only practices and never plays the game. We’re created to get in the game. We’re called to be formed in the faith and move to the other side of the glass, where we can live out the adventure of following God’s ongoing mission in the world.