People across the United States are finding out what it means for their life when the government shuts down. From this, a new hashtag on Twitter has started: #IfIShutDown. Dentists are tweeting empty dentist chairs, newspaper editors blank sheets of paper, and Moms and Dads messy kitchens and unsupervised children.
But what if churches shut down?
It might be the most “felt” shutdown of all.
Because if churches shut down,
…food pantries would run empty
…residents in nursing homes would go unvisited, and many would be forced to close
…large numbers of preschools, after-school programs, daycares, elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, and even colleges and universities would have to close
...untold numbers of AIDS orphans in Africa would lose their monthly support
…marriages facing crisis would have to fend for themselves
…homes being built for the homeless would have to be dramatically scaled back
…countless orphanages would be forced to close
…parents with wayward children would be left without support
…the arts would lose one of its greatest patrons, and one of its biggest venues
…arguably the single largest values training program for young children would end
…recovery groups of all kinds would find themselves without places to meet, staff to serve, or support to continue
…one of the last stands of living, breathing bookstores would end
…vast numbers of funerals would go unofficiated and weddings put on hold
…leaders and constituents in the vanguard of ending human slavery and sex trafficking would be sidelined
…teens dealing with drugs and drinking, cutting and bullying, would be adrift without focused support
…people in hospitals would be unvisited, and hospice support would be devastated
…and hundreds of millions of dollars going into aid and benevolence for the poorest of the poor would end.
Oh, and there’s one more little thing: the one message that can alter the entire trajectory of someone’s eternity would lose its most powerful voice.
So what happens if the government shuts down? Arguably, some good things end. But much still goes on, such as the recent purchase of a mechanical bull for $47,000. So at least the important things are cared for.
But with the church?
That’s one shutdown no one would want to face.
James Emery White
“Twitter users share what would happen #IfIShutDown,” TheToday Show, Wednesday, October 9, 2013, read online.
“A Week Into the Shutdown, Government Buys $47,174 Mechanical Bull,” Lacey Donohue, Gawker.com, October 8, 2013, read online.
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. His newly released book is The Church in an Age of Crisis: 25 New Realities Facing Christianity (Baker Press). To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, log-on to www.churchandculture.org, where you can post your comments on this blog, view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.