So I was doing a little research the other day on the area where my church is located. I noticed that there are a lot of churches in Centreville. Frankly, I'm surprised the place is not glowing with glory. But I have noticed that they tend to be separated by many factors - denominations, races, worship styles, and I got to thinking, what would it be like if there was one - one - church there - the Church of Jesus Christ.
The reason I mention this is I have been reading a couple of books that speak to this kind of thought, particularly The Purpose Driven Church by Rick Warren. He uses the analogy of fishing when discussing reaching out to people in your community. So out of curiosity I thought I would look up "churches in Centreville, VA" on Switchboard.com. What I found was amazing. The little black dots with numbers in them on the picture are the ones that hit on a map. It only counted the churches that actually had phone numbers in the area around where U.S. 29 and Virginia 28 intersect (Centrevillagers will know where I am talking about) and it hit on at least 11 of them. Not to mention the churches who meet in the same building but don't have a phone number. Eleven churches within about two miles of each other.
Now I'm no expert, but if there are that many churches in a small area -- Baptist, Assemblies of God, Presbyterian, Korean, Bible, Community, -- how can there be anyone who does not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? And that doesn't even count the Mormons!
Are we doing something wrong? Or are we all fishing in the same hole?
When I talked it over with my wife, I started to brainstorm: what if there were only one church -- one great big one in a building like the multiplex? You know, 12 auditoriums all equipped with A-V equipment and all that?
You could have services in there all day on Sunday (maybe even on Saturday for the 7th-Day Adventists) and you could every now and then have one GIANT service for the whole church. Wouldn't that be a novel idea?
But maybe I'm dreaming. Maybe pastors don't want to be in the same building because they are afraid of "losing their sheep." But can you imagine what it would be like -- having the "black church" and the "white Church" and the "Latino Church" and the "Asian Church" all be The Church? The one Jesus died for? What would that look like?