Posted by: rogueminister | December 16, 2008

Church as Public Library

Last week was final exams for me, so I spent a lot of time at the local public library working on papers and reading. I noticed something that I thought would be helpful as we try to envision what Christ’s church should look like these days. Perhaps, something like this…

church        AS      Library                                      

First let me say that I am unoffically ADD so I get distracted very easily. So as I was reading and writing, I kept looking up to see what was going on around me. I noticed something that is fairly rare around here, diversity. Outside of the seminary and college, Jessamine County Kentucky is probably one of the least diverse places on earth or at least in the United States. Almost 95% of the people are white and the average income is well above the average in KY.

The library however painted a very different picture, which now that I look back on all the public libraries I have visited, seems to be true all over the place. There was a wide variety of skin tones, socio-economic backgrounds, education levels, and ages at the library. I even had conversations with a black man working on his Ph.D, a white stay-at-home mother of three, and a working class grandmother. There were those who appeared to be homeless surfing the internet and keeping out of the rain, while a lady continuing her education was sitting at the coffee shop and a group of kids were browsing the DVD section.

This to me is a great vision of what church should be. It should be a place where people of all backgrounds, from every walk of life, can come for refuge and for knowledge and information. It should provide a variety of services, free of charge, and give all people an opportunity to better themselves. 

Our library here even has a book delivery van that takes a variety of media to those who cant make it to the library building. Again, we see a good example for the church we should go to those who can’t or won’t come to us and take them the good news of Jesus and the resources to better themselves.

Next time you meet with your congregation I challenge you to look around. What do you see? Do you notice a relatively homogenous group or do you see people from a variety of races, cultures, socio-economic situations, and education levels? If you see mostly people that look like you, then how can we change that? How do we learn from the public library as we seek to bear witness to Jesus and his diverse Kingdom.

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Responses

  1. Very cool thoughts (at least for me — I’m the ILL Specialist for the Kentucky State Library in Frankfort).

    How do we learn from the public libraries? We intentionally plan, prepare, and provide opportunities that people might actually need or want to take advantage of. AA, NA, Celebrate Recovery, Financial Planning, Divorce Counseling, Family Counseling, Community Discussion Groups.

    All of these and more are ways that libraries try to reach across social boundaries to serve their communities.

    nick

    PS – I LOVE that the group who runs the coffee shop is called ‘Solomon’s Porch’

  2. May your lives be filled with happiness as you daily experience the blessings of God in the New Year!

    Bill Williams

  3. It’s great to see a web dedicated to the missional ways of the church. I’ve been trying to find similar sites like this. We’ve been working on how we can be missional in our church. We already did a few things but we want to learn more. I have some books on missional. However books from the US are either not available or affordable here in the Philippines. God bless! I’ll be back in this site.


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