The Church Bell Tower: A Parable

In my neighborhood there is a church with an old-fashioned bell tower. The bell rings every hour.

Except it doesn’t ring on the hour. It normally rings about six minutes before the top of the hour. At 9:54 the bell rings ten times. At 12:54, the bell rings once. You get the idea.

I’m sure it didn’t start that way. I’m sure at some point it started with the bell ringing at 9:59 instead of 10:00. No one really noticed, because it was close and it was debatable whether my watch was right or the bell tower was right. Over time, one minute grew to two. Two minutes grew to four. Now the bell tolls six minutes before the beginning of the hour. At this point it’s kind of a worthless indicator of the time.

How do I know the clock tower is off and it’s not my watch? Well, I check the time on my phone. My phone is tied to the atomic clock. It’s tied to the source of information and is relentlessly checking to make sure it’s correct. All of us with phones know exactly what time it is because we go back to the source.

The church bell in my neighborhood is a parable for the church at large. When we get away from the standard, even a little, we risk getting off by a lot. One minute off may not look very far from the real time, but a slow drift can lead us to being off by a lot. We need to get back to our standard: the Bible. When we do, we will be like people checking our phones and noticing that the Church at large is off (maybe by a lot).

In my neighborhood, it would be good if someone who is part of that church would ask whoever cares for the bell to adjust the timer on the bell. In your church, it might be worth it for you and other believers to ask whether you are in sync with God’s word. You might find you’re off by a little. You might find your off by a lot.

Or you might find you can help someone ring their bell at the exact right time.

Photo Credit: White Concrete Church Under White Clouds During Daytime by Juan Martin Lopez


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About traviskolder

Travis Kolder is a follower of Jesus, a husband, a father of five, an organic church planter, and a writer. He lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he serves as part of the Cedar Rapids House Church Network.

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