Face Direction of Travel

FDT1Rev. Gary A. Shockley, Director of Church Vitality

My wife and I recently returned from a vacation abroad. One of the things I love about traveling to other countries are the odd signs I happen upon like this one at Heathrow Airport in London above the moving walkway: “Face Direction of Travel.” Kind of obvious, huh? I wonder how many people got hurt because they were facing the wrong direction and got catapulted across the tile floor when the moving walkway—well—stopped moving?

“Face direction of travel.”

When I am in a consultations with local churches that are struggling I usually find a lack of clear vision and well defined purpose at the core of their being. Questions such as, “Why do we exist?”, “What do we do?” or “What’s most important now?” have not been sufficiently asked or answered. The church is moving but not necessarily facing their direction of travel. Often they are facing backward to what used to be and not toward the new thing God intends for them.

“Face direction of travel.”

In our travels in five different countries we found churches everywhere. Some of them were hundreds of years old and others fairly new.  Some had a handful of people and others hundreds. The ones that were thriving found a way to take all their history and heritage and carry it with them into the world as it currently is (not used to be). They face the direction of travel.

FDTWe visited a “new” cathedral in Liverpool that is well over a hundred years old. I was taken by the fact that there were single movable seats everywhere and not a pew in sight. I was told the church had always been that way. There was an extremely large gathering area in the back of the sanctuary where a community art show was on display. Banners advertised gathering space for all kinds of non-church venues and events. The church, even a hundred years ago, was designed for community activities. What I loved most about the space were the remarkable stained glass windows throughout but one in particular that had a pink neon sign scrolled beneath it, “I felt you and I knew you loved me.”  It seemed oddly out of place. It is a relatively new addition to the church (and yes, some strongly protested it) but it was done by a local artist who suffers with schizophrenia. The woman, while claiming to have no faith and little space for God in her life, created the sign because she said it was the only place she visited that brought her a sense of peace. The cathedral, through ancient, remains contemporary in its desire to interact with its community in meaningful ways.

FDT3“Face direction of travel.”

Are you paying attention to where you are going? Is it in line with God’s direction for you? Think about that. Pray about it to. Frankly, the alternative is simply painful.