Thursday, April 22, 2010

Has Church Gone to the Dogs?

At last month's Church Council meeting I was asked by a pastor friend who is doing some consulting work with us what my vision for St. Paul's was. I wish I could tell you that I issued some brilliantly well thought out, theologically correct statement that just wowed everyone gathered. That would be a lie. And yes, Dr. House, everyone lies, but this time I choose not to. Basically I whiffed. A fastball right in my wheelhouse and I whiffed. Was I embarrassed.

Since then I have been struggling to find an answer to that question, because we all know (all together now), "Without a vision, the people perish." Very good class. We will now recite Luther's explanation to the third article of the Creed... Anyway, as I came out of church Sunday I about tripped over a new visitor. Now, we're not located in the best section of town, but hardly the worst either. But it wasn't a homeless person, nor a drunk sleeping off a bender, it was a very friendly, somewhat overly submissive Basset Hound, with very soulful eyes, that had rolled over in front of my feet. With my weakened, sore knees I almost tripped and fell over the poor thing. She is a friendly dog, perhaps the subject of abuse, given her overly submissive behavior. She has a nice hand-tooled looking leather collar with a rabies shot tag attached. She belongs somewhere but for whatever reason has been cast adrift in a strange place.

Carla, as we temporarily named her, is not the first stray to show up at our door. Our neighbor's neglected and ill-treated Basset Hound, Carlo, (Carlo, Carla, get it?) is a regular visitor when he breaks free of his restraints. Earlier this year we had our own mini-dogpack that hung out on our front lawn. And so on and so on. We would love to adopt them all but finances and the emotional well-being of our family dog, Gracie, a 9 year old miniature dachshund, prevent us from doing so. It's like somehow the dogs have marked our place as a place where they can get attention, and care, whatever they need, until they decide to move on. It's sort of like how depression era hobos (is that still a pc term?) used to mark houses where they could find a hot meal and perhaps a few odd jobs to do, only its the dogs doing the marking.

Well, when I almost fell over Carla, the resultant twinge in my knees triggered a thought. What if the church were to become a safe haven for the neglected and abused of the world, providing them with the love and care that they need until they decide to move on, stay, or do whatever the Spirit moves them to do. No hassle; no pressure. Just establishing contact, building relationships, meeting needs, and allowing them to linger or move on in their own time.

The idea is still rough and not thoroughly fleshed out, but it works for me, for now. I appreciate the preliminary feedback I've gotten from my Facebook friends, and would love to continue the conversation. So please comment away... the good, the bad and the ugly...

I am the Unlikely Pastor. Welcome to my world.

1 comment:

  1. I could not believe there was not a comment on this post! The church being a safe place! YES!!! It should be a safe place and those members of the congregation that choose to 'stay' are prayerfully of one spirit, the Holy Spirit, and the leaders are prayerfully equipping the 'safe place' with the tools they need to remove the unsafe behaviors. Spread the Love of Christ to all even the dogs.