“Where is your church?” If you asked me that, I could give you a street address in Arlington Heights, Illinois. But I’d rather answer it by showing you the three large maps on display in our church lobby.
One is a world map. Another is a map of Arlington Heights and the neighboring suburbs. Between them is a map of the greater Chicago area.
- The world map has labels marking Middleburg, South Africa, as well as locations in Russia and Guatemala.
- Labels on the two regional and local maps mark other places, such as a Habitat for Humanity build, the Chicago Botanical Garden, and the Arlington Heights Library.
These are our “Where We’re Serving” maps. People in our church family serve in each location marked on the maps. These include a homeless ministry, a thrift store, and various ministries we support in the city of Chicago. They also include our our recent serving day projects.
Our maps show our sister church in South Africa. They point out places we’ve gone on national and international mission trips. They identify places in which our people serve the community through organizations and individually. These include the Special Olympics, youth athletic leagues, community clean-up events, political groups, and caring for cats with special needs.
For our church, it’s a new idea to celebrate what members do outside the auspices of the church. For some, it’s even a new idea to identify everyday service to neighbors as service to Jesus. I love the reactions I hear about the maps. People say things like, “Who knew all that we’re doing?!” Or they comment, “Oh, I do that too!”
Where is our church? Our church exists at each location marked on the maps. The people who are the church at 111 W. Olive in Arlington Heights and who worship there also live, work, and serve in many different places, locally and globally. We are the church as we serve in our homes and workplaces. (I wish we could fit all those places on the maps, too!) We’re the church as we worship, learn, and serve within our building. And we’re also the church as we serve the community in the name of Christ in a wonderful variety of unique and interesting ways.
Where’s your church?
Note: For details on how we went about it, and photos of the maps, see the version of this article on The Equipper website.