A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege to listen to Professor David Haskell of Wilfrid Laurier University speak about the state of the church in Canada today. He said many noteworthy things in his all-too-brief 45-minute talk, but one thing in particular stood out for me: “Churches are hospitals. We need ambulances.”
What does that mean?
It means that while God’s people are in the business of soul care, we have, for too long, expected people to come to us for that healing, instead of us going to them. And today, if the church is to thrive, we have to go to them.
Who are “them”?
They are our neighbours, our friends, our loved ones who are suffering spiritually because they lack a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. For a long time in Canada, we have simply expected that people who were interested in religious services of a particular brand would go to a church building of that particular brand, walk in the door, and engage. And on some rare occasions, this actually happens today…but not often.
No, today, we need to go out into the streets with proverbial stretchers and bring care to the spiritually sick right there in the field before we bring them to the hospital.
To carry that analogy further, we don’t wait for those in need to realize their need and come to the professionals for help. All followers of Jesus are called to be spiritual EMS workers, acting where and when the need is greatest.
For all of us, that means growing in our faith so that we are competent to provide basic spiritual care – to introduce our neighbours to Jesus – out in the field. None of us ever masters the faith, for if that were possible it would cease to be faith! But we should enjoy the Lord so much that we long to share him with others – over the back fence, in the post office, wherever we get the opportunity – without waiting for them to figure out their own need of Christ and finding your neighbour showing up at church, only to be surprised to see you there.
Churches are hospitals, and we need ambulances. Will you be an ambulance?
“Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone” (Mark 16.15, NLT).