I was surprised by how many people did not want their photos taken when we suggested the idea of having photos of the teams on the notice board area. Clearly, there are some shy people out there who feel self-conscious about photos!
But this does raise the more interesting point: why do this? Why have photos of people on this prominent area as you enter the church building? What is the point of this? Is it just to familiarise people with some of the faces they’re likely to encounter in church? Is it to promote the individuals concerned? Why do we do what we do? Are we just aping companies who have photographs of their personnel on display boards?
The reasoning behind the photos is not to glorify any one person but is to acknowledge the inescapable fact that church is ultimately not about buildings but about people. Peter tells us ‘you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.’ (1 Peter 2:5 TNIV) He goes on to say ‘you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.’ (1 Peter 2:9-10 TNIV) We are immensely grateful for the building God has given us and count it a privilege and honour to be able to look after its fabric. But we are even more thrilled that God is working with us as living stones and building us into His house.
We are also very aware that the teams represented in the picture show our church’s commitment to reaching out to the community, to being salt and light in this place of Goldthorpe. We are not interested in simply receiving God’s blessing and hoarding it; we want to overflow into our community, showing an alternative way of living. Paul says to the Philippians, ‘Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.’ (Phil 2:15-16 TNIV) The whole theme of light and darkness – so relevant to our current studies on 1 John – is the theme running through the whole idea of the notice board. Jesus is the Light of the world (John 8:12 TNIV) and His light shines in the darkness – wherever there is no knowledge of Him, no submission to His Lordship, no understanding of His life, death and resurrection, there is darkness. But we also are the light of the world and have the privilege of serving Christ in our community: serving the poor and needy, the children, the shoppers, the parents with young children, the whole community. We don’t do this in isolation, however; we do this from our church community, through being the family of God. Hence there are no ‘lone ranger’ photographs on the board. We want to work together, for we are all members of Christ’s body.
The Message version of Philippians 2:15-16 says ‘Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night.’ That’s our aim and goal and the notice board is simply a visual representation of that fact.