Damaged by Church

St George’s URC Church, Southport, has some blue warning signs stuck to its exterior walls: LOOSE MASONRY CARS PARKED AT OWNERS’ RISK. Although it is a rather fine Victorian building, I dare say it is an expensive liability for a modern congregation to bear. The broken windows and crumbling stonework, which has presumably been known to topple on car roofs and windscreens, may be evidence of repair bills too large to meet. I’m certainly glad I did not park my car there on a day something fell down. Whether the signs indemnify the owners from liability, I do not know.

I wonder how many people, over the years, have been damaged by churches. I talk not about mere windscreens, but human beings. Some churches have been known to harbour paedophilic predators, leaving a path of mental scarring in their wake. Others have been bastions of pride and gossip, gleefully whispering about others’ business. Some have been all about fleecing the punters, enriching some starry-eyes pastor at the members’ expense.

Sadly, though churches should be holy communities of Christ-likeness, they often fail to achieve their calling. It was the case in the first century when the Lord Jesus communicated to Asia’s seven churches in the book of Revelation. Whereas we cannot be responsible for every branch of the ecclesia on earth, we can do our best to ensure that our corner of the vineyard meets the standard. We can make a start by ensuring our building is not likely to fall on people when they visit, and neither will they be hurt and wounded when they choose to stay.