You couldn’t help but notice it over the last several weeks at Blanchard Warrenville.
Arbol de Vida (Tree of Life), the Hispanic congregation from West Chicago which recently began sharing space with us at our Blanchard Warrenville campus, had a very nice, prominently displayed temporary sign put up on our front lawn (closer to the street than our own!) announcing their presence for anyone on Butterfield Road to see. It’s hard not to overwhelm our own Blanchard sign but it’s bound to cause some confusion. Are we changing our name? Are we becoming an Hispanic congregation? (We’re not–but wouldn’t that be something?)
So there’s a huge part of me that says, “Bring it on!” If we help the Hispanic Church in Warrenville to rise and take the spotlight, praise God, because the Hispanic Church in America is growing, full of life and equipped with essential gifts to help the greater Church to grow. Even better, what would it look like if we all worked hard to move ever closer to real integration and collaboration in the Church across every ethnic line?
After all, why should we have to wait until heaven until every tribe and tongue gathers around God’s throne to worship Him? If that’s the way God sees worship there, it looks like we’ve got some dress rehearsals to put on here.
The truth is that if the Church in the western suburbs of Chicago (and the world!) is to grow and thrive, we must be committed to loving our neighbors as ourselves, no matter what our skin color is, believing that every culture has a unique perspective on what it means to worship Jesus and complete His redemptive mission together.
But I had to take Arbol de Vida’s sign down on Tuesday. Not because I don’t want these brothers and sisters to overshadow us. Not because I don’t want our neighbors and passersby to know about them. It’s just because there are city ordinances to follow, so we need to find a solution for a permanent sign that serves the same purpose. That’s what Pastor Paul (from Arbol de Vida) and I have to work on next.
But in my head and my heart, I’m keeping that sign up on the front lawn–but even bigger and with crazy flashing neon highlights, too.
I believe the Church in our world depends on it.
What about you? What do you think? Is this crazy vision even possible? And, if it is, how do we get there?