In this Huffington Post Religion blog post (click the image), Henry Brinton (don’t know him at all) starts to say something quite profound – and then drives into a cul-de-sac
Here’s the money quote: “Congregations need to establish hospitable ‘threshold places’ that link the church with the world around it…” It’s very well put. And the specific architectural example he gives leading up to the point is an insightful one – a church building that is both indoor and outdoor.
But then he drives into that cul-de-sac – he gets into full attractional church mode: parking lots, landscaping, greeters, etc… Please, no.
The image of ‘threshold places’ could be explored to great profit. To my mind, such threshold places would be contexts in which the church is drawn into meaningful encounter and work and conversation with the world around – and very often it will be a territory in which the church is guest or partner. Thinking missionally, it will necessarily be a territory in which the church is not ‘in control’ and is not ‘host’, but in which it may nevertheless live graciously and confidently in Christ, serving his kingdom.
The one example I think of is Paul and Lydia outside of Philippi. Lydia was free to listen, or not. In that public place she was free to stay or to walk away. Paul simply spoke of his faith in Christ and, in that ‘threshold place’ (a place of open and honest and transparent encounter), let her freely respond. In her case the response was one of faith, and insistent hospitality.