Churches have often been portrayed as lighthouses, those places which guide people toward safety and away from the rocks. The analogy works because it makes sense to build a church where there is danger and need.
However, the reality of what we do is quite different. We often build our “lighthouses” in convenient places which are safe and convenient to get to, much like our suburban malls. It is done so they can easily be attended and supported; but if you close your eyes and think of the lighthouses of old, they were not built in convenient places. Instead, they were built in the rough areas that were neither convenient nor easily accessible. In fact, many were built on outlying islands and spits of rock because that is where they were most effective in reaching the otherwise soon-to-be-lost.
In that world the need for organizations like CeIF is very real and we serve a very tangible purpose. We were designed to serve those, who in turn serve others. We were meant to be the bridge that allowed the lighthouse keepers to do their job.
Yet, in our present world so many churches now focus on those who are already saved, and many Christian workers don’t want to serve in lonely and forsaken places anyway. Therefore, it has become normal to build our new lighthouses in convenient locations.
It all makes sense until you wonder why the lost are no longer saved in our churches. Yes, there are lots of good programs that go on in many of them, but if we continue to locate the majority of our churches in these convenient locations, what will happen to those who are “out on the rocks”?
Are we still being a lighthouse when we are no longer focused on the lost? If we are called to the lost, we must by necessity go where they are because we continue to live in a world where they are still floundering. If we were to become a “bridge” to these god- forsaken places, then “lighthouses” out “there” could make a real difference for the Kingdom.
If this was why CeIF founded, how can we fulfill it?
Our present reality is that we mainly serve churches which are well established and in convenient locations; meaning they have many other financial sources that they can use to supply them.
So the question remains, are we fulfilling our true mission? If not, who will build these lighthouses where the location is based more on effectiveness than convenience?
In talking with pastors I hear a lot of “what can you do for us”, which makes sense in the modern world of church building. Maybe a better question might be, “how can we all play our part in ensuring that those in the fringes are properly served.” Because, if we don’t start to think more in this way, maybe a day will come when everyone wonders, “what is the point to build lighthouses anyway?”