I saw something today that took my breath away.

Downtown Athens is home to quite a few big old beautiful churches, but one in particular caught my eye this morning.

I have driven past First United Methodist many times. I’d say hundreds, but I’ve only lived here two years, so that may be a stretch. Anywho, here it is:

IMG_5607Pretty, right? It’s stately. And perhaps even intimidating to someone who hasn’t been in a church for a long time– if ever.

That’s why I was so moved when I saw what was in front of the church. A little white cross with a prayer box attached. Another clear box below it holds paper and pencils.

IMG_5606Athens is home to 25 thousand college students. Most of them spend the majority of their time Uptown, which is what we affectionately call our downtown. Based on the reputation Ohio University has for parties and drunken debauchery, I’d say it’s a safe bet that many of those students are searching for something, but they’re surely not looking in a church.

That’s why this is so beautiful to me. It says, “We care about you. God cares about you. We’d love to have you join us, but until you feel comfortable doing that, let us carry some of your burdens.”

We can’t expect people to stroll into a new church and take a seat. That’s scary for even the most seasoned Christian. We have to meet people at the front door — or perhaps even on the sidewalk.