Imagine my surprise when I listened to this voice mail: “Hello, I’m Fernanda from the New York Times. Are you the folks that meet at the Buffalo Chip in Cave Creek? If so, we’d like to do a story about your church.”
It was two days after Christmas so our whole family was still here for the holiday. “Listen to this message,” I said as I sat the phone on the coffee table.
They looked at me in disbelief. “Can you believe it?” I said.
Sure enough, Fernanda and a photographer came to visit the Church at the Chip on a blustery, cold December morning. I was a bit uncomfortable about my message topic, for I had planned to resume our study through the gospel following Christmas. My text? The woman caught in adultery (John 8). How would a New Yorker respond to an old-fashioned sermon about adultery and hypocrisy?
“Oh well,” I thought. “We didn’t plan any of this. The last thing I’m going to do is change what we’re doing for the sake of the NY Times. Besides, what’s not to like? After all, the guilty person goes free, the moralists are shamed, and the only truly innocent person offers forgiveness.
So we did everything just as we always do: music, message, communion and lots of good old fashioned friendship. Fernanda, the reporter, and David, the photographer, were delightful and enthusiastic. The article she wrote (despite the fact that she has a little trouble counting!) was positive and upbeat. I was impressed with her professionalism and her enthusiasm. (You can read her article here.)
So there you have it. We haven’t sought any publicity; we’ve simply tried to do what Jesus did: take the Gospel into the heart of our community. Too many churches seem to say, “Come here and let us tell you about Jesus.” We think it is more like Jesus to say, “Here we are; we want to serve you in Jesus’ name.” Apparently, people are noticing.