Big Picture: No Services on March 1

So we’re not having services on Sunday March 1st… But why not?

I have some close friends that are on staff at The Austin Stone. This is a great church doing some great things in and for the city of Austin. They have a philosophy about being a church “for the city.” I heard their pastor Matt Carter speak at a conference many years ago, and something he said has always stuck with me.

Churches postures toward their cities

He said that most churches in various communities tend to have one of three postures towards their city. The first posture is that of indifference. A church that is indifferent toward the city could care less what the city is doing and how it’s doing it. The city does their thing, the church does theirs, and the lines never really intersect much.

The second posture some churches take is that of antagonism. A church that is antagonistic toward the city is generally opposed to what their city is doing. With such churches there’s usually a constant battle going on between the church and the city when it comes to agendas, events, plans, scheduling, etc… basically there’s an overall lack of desire to work together.

Then there’s a third posture that a church can (and should) take, and that is a church that is “For” the city. A church that is for the city wants to work on improving their city. They want to see lives changed for the better and see the economy of the city improve. In other words, a church that is for the city is a church that cares about the redemption of the city where God has placed them.

Vista is a church that is for the city!

At the Vista, this is something we’ve always wanted to be, a church that is for our city and a blessing to it. It’s precisely because of this underlying principle that we’ve decided not to have services on Sunday, March 1. The first Sunday of March each year is the annual Army Marathon. This is an event that brings a lot of publicity and economic value to our city. Hilliard Road (the road that runs along the East side of our building) is one of the main roads used for the marathon. The full marathon ends on Hilliard and the half marathon and 5k both begin and end there. There will be somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 people participating in and helping put this event on.

In talking with the director of the marathon he indicated to me that if we were to have church services that Sunday (which of course is our option), they would have to re-rout the entire marathon and most likely, it would not come through Temple at all. The last thing we want to do as a church is get in our shiny new building and then tell the city that they can’t use Hilliard Road to do the marathon. That would be a posture of indifference or worse… antagonism toward our city. We love Temple. We want to see good for Temple. So, our leadership met and decided that we would gladly cancel services that Sunday and allow the marathon to proceed.

So, what do I do on March 1?

In case you’re wondering what you and your family can do on that Sunday, let me give you a few suggestions.

  1. Visit another church in our area. We’re not afraid to tell you to visit other churches. Worship with other believers. If someone asks you what you’re doing there or if you’re a visitor, just tell them you’re from the Vista and we’re not having services today, so you thought you’d just worship with other brothers and sisters in Christ.
  2. Visit one of our church plants. We have started, or helped to start, many churches in our nine years of existence, several of which are in Bell County. Here are some of their websites if you’re interested.
  3. Take a neighbor out to breakfast or lunch. Get to know them and their family a little bit better. Oh, and need I even say this… pick up the tab and tip generously.
  4. Sit down with your family and read the Bible and pray together, or get your COMgroup together to do the same.

Whatever you decide to do that Sunday, just remember…

We’re not the church because we get together once a week for corporate worship. We’re the church because we’ve been saved by the grace of God through the sacrifice of his Son Jesus Christ. He has redeemed us, and we are to be about the redemption of others. Redemption starts with love. So, the redemption of our city starts with us loving our city.

I know I speak for our entire leadership when I say, thank you for your willingness to be flexible and help us be a blessing to our city.