Current Issue

The story is told of an artist who was engaged to paint a picture of a dying church. Those who commissioned him rather naturally expected that he would portray a ramshackle old structure set in the midst of a neglected yard overgrown with weeds, with broken windows, weather-beaten and unpainted walls, and surrounded by a general air of decrepitude.

Instead, the artist painted the picture of a stately building with expensive art glass windows, a considerable expanse of richly carved wood, a high pulpit, and comfortable pews. In the foyer, on a conspicuous corner of the wall, a box was fitted, across the front of which were the words “For Missions.” Over the little opening designed to receive the contributions there was a cobweb!

There’s a profound truth beneath the artist’s satire! A church may be meeting in a glorious Gothic cathedral and yet be in the throes of death.

The actual life of a Christian congregation can be measured, not by the building in which the people worship but by their concern for the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth.

From Signs of the Times®, June 3, 1947.

Picture of a Dying Church

by Roy Smith
From the March 2007 Signs