You probably go a really loving, welcoming, friendly church.
Churches typically like to say they’re “friendly” as a selling point. They might even put on their sign “Come as you are.” It’s supposed to mean that church is a safe place for everyone. Anyone can find acceptance and belonging in church.
But you and I both know that’s baloney.
If we’re being honest, part of us likes our churches the way they are, and doesn’t want anyone messing them up. We’ve seen people we know we should “witness” to. But then a little voice tells us that maybe our church isn’t the church God wants them to join. Maybe they’d be more comfortable with other people. I’ve talked to pastors who’ve been brave enough to be honest and admit that little voice exists.
If you had a lineup of people you could bring to church, who would actually be accepted by your church? Forget trying to “fix” anyone, or change anyone’s habits or opinions or lifestyle. Pretend that these people will never change their ways or become less unusual or sinful, but they’ll come to church for years, seeking God, and possibly offending everyone the whole time. Who would really be able to join your church?
Wow, there’s a lot of people with sex related barriers to church on that list. Some churches don’t even like people to show up in jeans.
How would your church score? I think there’s a church for everyone to not be welcomed to. I bet I could find a church I wouldn’t be welcome at.
Some of you may be thinking that those people should have to clean up their act pretty quickly if they planned on sticking around your church. Sure, as quickly as I can point out that Jesus didn’t condemn the adulteress, you’ll point out that he also told her to “sin no more.”
But what if she did go on sinning? What if that porn star took ten years to be convicted by God, get baptized and leave porn? What if she needed forgiveness every week? Would we be able to tolerate her? What about the people who aren’t “sinning” but are just being “annoying?”
Some of you think you attend really “accepting” churches who would welcome anyone off the streets. Well, what about Pat Robertson? Sure, your church may love the GLBT crowd, but would your church be able to stand Pat? Some of your churches are full of punks and “misfits.” Would that CEO in the power suit be able to make the cut for those churches? What about the Christians who just happen to be really different from you? It’s a beautiful thing when different people can worship God in harmony. It just doesn’t happen often.
So be honest. Who might not make the cut in your church? Where have you seen the people of your church draw the line when it came to loving people? Are you one of those people who churches have failed to welcome?