Everybody Needs a Stella

skepticI once knew a soccer mom with whom I spent many weekends watching our daughters play.  She was hilarious and inappropriate. She drank too much.  She wore fun earrings.  I liked her so much.  Let’s call her Stella.

Stella:  So if I walked in your church next Sunday, what would you say that made me take you seriously?

Me:  (Ugh.  Not much?)

I lived in dread that some random Sunday, Stella would show up, sit on a back pew, cross her arms, and give me an irreverent “So, I’m here.  Rock my world” look.

She never did, but the fear made me a better preacher.  I was forced to consider if the message I was sharing was consequential in any way to a skeptical, secular friend.  It kept me from ever preaching a sermon like I heard once, trying to convince us that Jesus rose on a Tuesday, not a Sunday.  (Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.)

Obviously I’ve preached enormous heaps of dross sometimes but the hope is that there has been more gold than dross- thanks be to God.

Nevertheless, everybody needs a Stella to keep us on our toes.

I was asked just yesterday by someone who is not a believer, “What’s the best thing one of the churches you work with does?”  My first thoughts were not “Fill the pews on Sunday” or “Offer excellent music.”  I thought of the church with the safe after-school program in a neighborhood prone to violence.  I thought of the tutoring program that connects hundreds of young adults with local students.  I thought of the food banks and the clothing closets.

Shifts in the 21st Century Church include these:  “consumer Christianity is dying and a more selfless discipleship is emerging” and “attendance no longer drives engagement; engagement drives attendance.” (Carey Nieuwhof)

Especially for Stella and her friends, making a difference in this ridiculously troubled world is the point. We realize gaps in our lives and the need to make a difference.  And doing this in community makes it easier and more meaningful.  And there is a God who created us for good.  And this God is worthy of getting to know and honoring.

Today’s prayer: I believe.  Help my unbelief – especially when I fail to minister to the Stellas in my life.

One response to “Everybody Needs a Stella

  1. Not only do you use the word dross well – one of my favorite words I learned from church music/the Psalms, etc. You remind us that we never should let ourselves ONLY “preach to the choir.”


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