I am fascinated by these arrows. I came across this image long ago, when I was in my first church, and it has remained with me ever since as a powerful image with a significant message for churches.
When you look at them, what do you see? Red arrows pointing outwards? Is that all that is there? Look at the gaps between the red arrows. There are also some white arrows pointing inwards. When you have seen them it is difficult to ignore them.
To me these arrows speak of God’s priorities for church. The last words Matthew records in his Gospel are from Jesus:
“Stay where you are, remain comfortable, enjoy worshipping together, listening to sermons and do lots of things together in my name and surely you will be too busy at church to do anything else.”
or was it:
“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
The white arrows only exist because the red arrows are pointing outwards. People will only come to faith if we go where Jesus sends us. That may be to the ends of the earth, or it may be in our home, our workplace, our local shops, or even the gym. And while we are there we are to make disciples, carrying on what Jesus was doing, being free samples of Jesus to the people we meet.
If church is God’s plan for achieving what Jesus started we can expect it to be growing (deeper and numerically). If it isn’t we need to look at what we are doing that is stopping it from growing, what we are doing that is preventing people from coming to faith, what we are doing that is stopping people from becoming disciples (or what we are not doing in all those cases). That’s not easy, but I believe that the arrows are a useful pointer.
Be blessed, be a blessing.