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One Sunday morning a stranger wandered into a small country church in the middle of the sermon. The man was unkempt and dirty. The usher tried his best to seat him off in a far corner, but instead the man walked to the very first pew and sat directly in front of the pastor. Then, to the congregation’s horror in the middle of the message, the man began to shout, "Amen. That’s right! Preach it brother."

The minister frowned at the man, but that didn’t work. The stranger just continued, "Praise Jesus, Hallelujah!" Finally an usher went to the man and whispered in his ear, "Sir, we don’t act like this in church."

"But you don’t understand, I’ve just got Jesus," said the stranger.

"Yes sir," said the usher, "but you didn’t get him from here."

This story is unfortunately far too often true. We have seen the church as an institution or a building or denomination. This is not what the church was born to be.

(From a sermon by Stephen Sheane, "What is the Church?")

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