The front porch is disappearing from American life. A hundred years ago, nearly every home had a front porch, where the family would gather after supper to enjoy the evening together. Parents would rock on the porch and catch up with those passing by. Kids would play in the yard or with the neighbors. Tales would be told, advice would be garnered, and time would be spent simply being.
Today you’re more likely to find a garage facing the street and a fenced in backyard protruding from the house, protecting its inhabitants from the burden of having to interact with others. We’ve become a society that is fragmented, divisive, and isolated. I think we would all be a better place if we recaptured a little bit of the ‘front porch’ mentality.
In many ways, churches have gone the way of the front porch. Churches used to be a place of hope, an asset to the community, a positive force for good in the world. Today the church can seem fragmented, divisive, and isolated. Instead of going to church to change the world, we go to church to escape the world. We’ve turned church into a fenced in backyard, a safe place to conduct life without having to get our hands dirty in a lost and dying world.
The church needs to recapture what I call the ‘front porch gospel.’ It’s a long forgotten way given to us by Jesus that replaces hatred with love, replaces escape with engagement, and replaces self-centeredness with self-sacrifice. If we can recapture the essence of the ‘front porch gospel,’ then we can recapture what it truly means to be the church.
For the next several weeks, I’ll be preaching through a sermon series entitled “Front Porch Gospel.” Hope to see you at Mt Vernon Church!