by Rev. John T. Gallagher
My aerobic exercise is primarily cycling. But there is a 5K event I want to participate in on Christmas Eve, and as the days get shorter it is hard to squeeze in the time to ride, so I revert to running in the park where there are lights for early morning runs. I went out and ran last week (about 3 and 1/4 miles). My knee paid for it all that day and the next. It was time for a new pair of running shoes.
I did my research, and a friend recommended a brand I had never heard of – Hoka. More research – adnauseum. Yeah, I’m one of those people who does a great deal of research before I buy. The shoe is hard to find, and I refused to order online without trying the shoe on in comparison to some other options. I ended up driving all the way to Charlotte, N.C., to a shoe store that had this brand.
I had already looked at and tried on some other shoes at some of the larger sports stores – well known names. What amazed me was the ignorance of the sales people. They knew little to nothing about running shoes. They didn’t know what shoe was best for overpronation or under. They couldn’t really help with a shoe that is best for a knee problem. They basically sold shoes. They could have just as easily been employees for McDonalds who were filling in for the day.
I was immediately struck by the store I went into for these shoes. It was strictly for runners. Everything they sold was for running – not basketball, not to look good and belong in GQ – running. The person who helped me was an ultra-marathon runner. He knew everything about the shoe and gave me a bit more insight than Hoka’s actual website. I came home with the shoes, and, because their service was so good I will be a repeat customer when the time comes.
It seems to me that churches are a lot like sport shoe stores. Many try to be like the “big name” sports stores. They do not have to be big churches to do this. These are churches that try to cater to every need, or at least more needs than they should. They offer a relationship with Jesus Christ but leave it to you to do most of the investigating and research. They believe in what they do. They are filled with good people who love the Lord. They, at times, bring into what they do a sense of the presence of God. But it is not quite enough …
In contrast, there are churches that are much like a sports shoe store that is strictly for running. They are focused on what God has called them to do. They seek to lead others into a personal relationship to Jesus through faith. But they do so from being an ultra-marathoner spiritually. This church has people who are regularly in the presence of God, and he is dynamically working in their lives. They provide ministry and services that rest on the moving of the Spirit of God rather than human motivation. The person who walks into such a church becomes “a repeat customer” because there is a deep sense of “these people KNOW what they are talking about.” It is more than just having church.
I want to build such a church. I want to be part of such a church. I want you to do all you can to help the church you are part of to be such a place. I want those of you who are looking for such a church to not give up.
So, I want to give a shout out to “The Charlotte Running Company.” And, I want to give a shout out to you and me to be part of building a “Charlotte Running Company” church.
Rev. John T. Gallagher serves as the pastor of Savannah Chapel Church in Bishopville, S.C.