How about high school?
If you’re anything like me, you’ve blocked quite a bit of those years from your memory. Or maybe you’re just old and you’ve forgotten. They weren’t the most pleasant of years. Back then, we looked awkward, and our bodies were rebelling against us, and we were just trying to not look too insecure.
Every week, millions of Christians go to church. They sing and pray and that’s great. But if you ask me, there’s a good chance that for a lot of Christians, church is kind of a holdover from high school.
High School Hierarchy
High school civilization was a hierarchy. It was like the caste system. You were practically born into your rank on the social pyramid. Everyone knew where you belonged. And you could not change your caste.
At the top were the most popular kids. They were good looking, probably athletic. Their parents had enough money to buy them the right clothes. They were leaders and queen bees and big personalities. Popular kids tend to know who the other beautiful, popular kids are, so they stick together. They had their own table in the cafeteria.
The rest of us were jockeying to not be dead last on the social ladder. We lacked something that prevented us from sitting at that coveted cafeteria table. Some of us weren’t as beautiful or athletic. Some of us were weird or just quiet. Some of us were picked dead last for teams in gym class. We knew who we were.
Where Do All the Cool People Go to Church?
When people go church shopping, how do they know they’ve found the “right” church?
I suspect when many people go church shopping, they start with the most popular churches, the places with a reputation. The most popular churches might have beautiful facilities, or a superstar preacher, or rock star worship leaders. They really know how to use social media and look freaking awesome doing it. Maybe the church attracts creative, beautiful, people. These churches really have their act together. No reason everyone wants to be a part of them.
I wonder how many church shoppers have visited the most popular church in town first, and didn’t visit a single other church. They just knew that God was calling them to go to this church. How could God possibly want them to go to any other church?
For the vast majority of us who didn’t get to sit with the cool, beautiful, popular kids, maybe being a part of the most popular, beautiful church finally satisfies our unfulfilled desires to be a part of the “in” crowd.
Does Your Church Love You or Need You?
Here’s how people know they’ve found the right church:
They feel welcomed. They fell accepted. They feel validated. Maybe they even feel loved. We covet these things.
But how many people know they’ve found the right group of people to hang out with because they feel needed?
You’ll know a church needs you when it isn’t the most popular. It doesn’t totally have it’s act together. It’s not the most beautiful. The people are a little more awkward, even weird, a little less sure of themselves.
Jesus knew how to find these people. He came and sat down at their table. And all the cool guys who were used to sitting at the popular table said, “Look at Jesus sitting with those losers. That chick sitting across from him is a total slut.”
There are people and groups and churches that still get picked dead last, just like in gym class. Not much has changed since junior high. And guess what? The popular kids still don’t really need you…not nearly as much as you think you need them.
So, are you going to spend your whole life the same way you spent high school, trying to get in with the popular kids? Or are you going to find the nerds and Goths and sluts, sitting over there in the corner, like Jesus did?
What say you? Do you think your church is the “popular kids'” table? Or does it look more like the kids that Jesus would have lunch with in high school? Does your church actually need you?