Last Sunday evening, our church (Central Church of the Brethren, in downtown Roanoke, VA) was broken into. This is the second time in 3 weeks. To date, the most signifcant loss is my old laptop, which had been given to the music department. It might work for another year, it might conk out tomorrow. The list of what is missing is minor, even somewhat amusing, but that’s another story…

Our congregation is discerning a transition to a “small group-missional church” model, where we intentionally reach out to the community around the church. We currently have three primary involvements that a “missional small group” could easily expand: a partnership with the local elementary school; the beginnings of a relationship with a “social-service” type ministry that reaches out to uninsured children; a willingness to allow the homeless are welcome to join us for our Wednesday evening meal (we generally have 2 or 3).

The recent break-ins have caused me to wonder what other ways our missional congregation will be broken into?

1. Will we continue to experience those who “break in and steal”? Probably. Will we let this be a motivation to retreat within our own walls (or retreat to the suburbs)? Knowing our congregation, I doubt it. But what of those pesky attitudes and stereotypes? Will we allow God to break into our own lives to redeem us from classism and racism? Pray that it would be so.

2. Will we allow God to “break into” our theology, learning to see how God is interested in all people—even preferentially interested in the poor, the widows, the aliens, all those on the “flip side” of global economics and political power. What do we need to learn from those whom affluence has passed by?

3. Will we allow God to “break into” the mentality that church is for “us”? Will our walls form the boundaries of a barrier between the church and the world? Or will the walls of the church provide the structure for authentic fellowship, for sharing our faith, for engaging our community, and for an opportunity for all people to experience the transforming grace of God?

It’s a risky venture, to be sure. But these are some of the risks of grace.