Ever think about small town firehouses and firefighters as missional entities?
If not, we probably should.
They may be the best metaphor for the church's responsibility for missional engagement with the community.
When we lived in our old house I would drive by the firehouse in our town everyday to work - there and back. Here are a few things I noticed:
(1) Everyone trusts a firefighter.
There is intrinsic trust and respect. They are viewed by the community has being there to protect the community. They are a friend of the townspeople. When a problem arises people think of them immediately. They care about the safety of people.
[Q]: How can we as followers of Jesus gain the respect and trust from those in the community?
(2) They train their people.
They undergo hours of required and constant training to help keep their people sharp and informed so that they are prepared to face any emergency.
[Q]: Are we being trained as leaders to be prepared for emergencies - and are we understanding the changes and shifts in culture to be most equipped to be relatable to the culture we are trying to reach?
(3) They train others in the community.
Education is important. Firehouses host classes, teach seminars and post reminders. On the sign out front it would sometimes read March is National Child Safety Month. Come in and we'll show you how to properly install your child's car seat. They are equipping people constantly.
[Q]: How are we equipping people to lead and serve effectively where they live, work and play?
(4) They use their facilities to bless the community.
Firehouses are oftentimes the places where emergency shelters are first established in times of great crisis. Numerous times I would drive by and the marquee would read Middle School Dance Friday Night 8 pm or Bingo Night every Thursday.
[Q]: How are our church facilities being used by a variety of people and organizations and groups throughout the week?
(5) They help towns celebrate.
They know how to throw parties. They host elementary school field trips. They sponsor pancake breakfasts and bingo nights. And fourth of July fireworks shows.
[Q]: The Kingdom of God is described by Jesus as a party. Most churches wouldn't be described that way by outsiders. What parties could we throw? How can we help celebrate with the people in our community?
(6) They are willing to give their lives away for the betterment of other people.
They are always on call - all hours of the night - to provide help when it is needed most.
[Q]: Why isn't the church viewed this way? What would have to happen for us to be viewed this way?
(7) They fight evil rather than run from it.
The thing a firefighter hates more than anything else is fire...and so therefore he or she rushes towards it, not away from it. He/she wants to do everything in his/her power to stamp it out because it knows its power and the destruction it is capable of causing. (Same with a doctor who hates cancer or a social worker who hates domestic violence. They do what they do not because they like cancer or domestic violence but because they hate it and want to eradicate it.)
[Q]: Do our churches have a posture of running away from evil or moving towards it in order to help stamp it out?
I'm sure there are other elements of firehouses and their missional expressions that the church could learn from.
What else would you add to the list?