If the church chairs in your sanctuary could speak what would they say? What stories would they tell?
Would they tell stories like the one’s the disciples told when they returned from their first mission trip? Would they talk about the lives changed by forgiveness, the sicknesses healed by God’s power, the prisons demolished by God’s grace and the joy of seeing God’s work in the present? Or would they sound more like the children of divorced parents pouring out the pain of broken promises, the disillusionment of incoherent actions through an emotionally numb heart that cannot endure more traumas?
Would your church chairs talk about the hidden hurt of people so burdened by suffering that they simply could not bring themselves to join in on the jubilant pre-offering worship set?
Would your church chairs talk about the introverted and lonely people who sat in them and waited for someone, just one, to reach out to them to help them out of the shell of uncertainty?
Would your church chairs talk about the seeker who finally understood the meaning of God’s love delivered through Jesus Christ and finally joined in worship because he now understood what all the singing was about?
Perhaps your chairs would talk about the private agony your pastor has endured in prayer as he struggled to lead more effectively.
Maybe your church chairs would speak about the professional woman who ventured into your congregation wondering whether there was really anything to the message of Jesus Christ and left confused because nothing really made sense about what she saw.
Would your church chairs talk about the tears they absorbed from those couples whose marriages found hope in Jesus Christ and reconciliation with one another?
Would your church chairs talk about the business meetings in which the entire congregation rose to the challenges of the times with the confidence of faith and reengaged their commitment to their collective work of ministry?
Would your church chairs laugh about the young man who managed to crawl underneath the length of an entire row before his father saw him and non-verbally commanded him to return immediately to his seat?
Perhaps your chairs would talk about their sadness in the little boy who snuck into the sanctuary at mid-week and prayed for his best friend dying of cancer. Or your church chairs may talk about the soft voices of a pastoral counseling session in which someone from the community poured out the frustration of their intellectual search for truth and determined to respond to the invitation of Jesus Christ to believe.
If your church chairs were called upon by God as witnesses in a trial of your congregation’s life and consistent obedience to God would they be a favorable or damaging witness to your case?
I don’t think about chairs much. Chairs are inanimate, always present, often just furniture in the press of soccer schedules, financial needs, programs, personality conflicts, friendships and habits of worship and tradition and debates about what the vision of the congregation should be. Chairs are seen and not heard which is what bothers me about this entire line of thought. I realize that sometimes in my experience the occupants of those chairs are seen and not heard. If the people sitting in those chairs would speak, what would they say? What stories would they tell?
Dr. Ray Wheeler is the Director of Global sales for Bertolini Inc and an adjunct instructor in leadership, church growth and ethics at Bethesda University California in Anaheim, California and Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, California.