As a homeowner, there is one thing you loathe to see pop up in your neighborhood: the dreaded FOR RENT sign. It's like a 50-foot tall diseased weed, attaching itself to everything in sight and spreading horror all over suburbia. (OK. Maybe I'm blowing this a bit out of proportion. Humor me.) The reason why we cringe at the sight of this beacon of temporary commitment is because more often than not, it brings with it an array of unwanted "issues". For instance, a friend of mine's dad has a rental house. Recently the tenants moved out after a couple of years of renting. When they went in to clean it up, to ready it to be put back on the market, they were floored. The house was like a war zone. The yard was unkept, the carpets and floors were disgusting, and the house was almost unlivable. And inevitably, the neighbors around this house were forced to put up with this for the duration of their stay. There is a vast chasm between a house that's FOR RENT...and a home that's FOR SALE. And going beyond the nature of our living spaces, it seeps into our spiritual mentality as well. Let me explain.
Right now, all over America, there are people who are "church shopping". This Sunday, singles, college students, families dissatisfied with their current church, and even those who are desperately seeking for authentic community who will walk out of their house, get in their car, and (essentially) go shopping - looking for the church that meets their expectations and matches their checklist. And let me be upfront: this is not necessarily a bad thing. Prayerfully and carefully discerning where it is that the Lord wants you and your family to invest and connect is of enormous importance. But where this can go awry - when it begins to become an "issue" - is when you start thinking that the church is FOR RENT. When you just keep dating the church rather than putting all your cards on the table, fully committing yourself. There comes a time when you have to pull the sign out of the yard, make a commitment and say, "This is where I'm investing, where I'm going to grow and serve, and these are the people I'm going to partner with to fight for the Gospel!" It's not an apartment - it's the Body of Christ!
FOR RENT is short for "I'm willing to make a temporary commitment". It's the road paved with "I'm IN, but I want a way OUT." And don't get me wrong - if you're only going to live in town for 9 months, burying yourself in a 30-year mortgage would be (putting it nicely), stupid. This is why they build apartments, why Hertz is in business, and why I go to Lowe's and pay $29 for a post-hole digger for the day. Most days, I don't need a post-hole digger. Seriously. There is a time and a place and a purpose for renting. But your "partnership in the Gospel" and your commitment to the church are not it. The church is NOT FOR RENT.
Are you fully committed to your church family? Do they know it?
Are you still "dating" the church? Are you "renting" a seat on Sundays? Or are you ALL in?