Yes, I see them. The looks of failing will power and obligation. I feel them. I feel them hot on my neck like the thundering breath of an awakened grizzly. As I enter the doors of yet another church building, I step foot, willingly, to a varying environment. At the back of my mind, though, holds a deep seated dread, for I know what is to come. Despite the ever-changing state of the churches I have visited, one defying factor consistently taints my appetite. That factor would be the people. Now, I am no social butterfly of Christians, ready to sprint to the door and lovingly embrace every person that walks through the entrance. You would more likely find me soiling a new cardigan trying to befriend a stray cat than talking in a large group, in fact. I am not, however, an advocate of posting a massive sign on my forehead that exclaims, in large black lettering,”WE DON’T WANT OUTSIDERS.” In spite of the numerous sermons I have heard preached on the subject, many a church do not seem to be able to grasp the concept of welcoming newcomers.
The only, rational, explanation I have is that, perhaps, the mass just presumes that they couldn’t possibly be the targeted audience of the message and, in their head, have been as inviting as possible. Alas, the cold truth of the matter is, we all could be more accommodating to the unfamiliar crowds. Instead of making excuses for why you shouldn’t introduce yourself to the mother attempting to corral her restless children or why you can’t accept another struggling soul into your friend circle, just do it. Waltzing into a building filled with complete strangers is difficult enough without having to uncomfortably sit in silence on the back rows of a room filled with people high fiving and greeting the surrounding persons, making accidental eye contact with you and hurriedly shifting away. (Yes, that has legitimately happened to me.. More than once..) How utterly dejecting is it that the Church, the group of people that are supposed to be united by their passion for Christ and spreading His message, can’t seem to manage even welcoming in the most dedicated of Christians into the place that is supposed to feel like a home? If We aren’t able to embody fellow brothers and sisters in Christ how are We ever going to proliferate His word, THE Word, to the remainder of unbelieving humanity??
It will never be effortless and without complications. With socialization and connection, that very much comes in the accord, (kind of a packaged deal). However, that does not give us, as devoted Followers — mind you– a free pass to stand idly by while people who are desperately reaching out or genuinely need a hand reached out to are being turned away from the Church and, often times, the Lord. I am as guilty as the next for missing opportunities and failing to listen to the Lord’s callings, but I have long since worked at being as welcoming as I can be. No matter age, ethnicity, culture, sin, or background, I will not be found turning away a roaming soul. “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” (Matthew 25:35)
DISCLAIMER: This article was in no way a bash against the Church or a particular church. This is an accumulated perspective I have acquired from a multitude of churches and the topic discussed is definitely one of the most widely spread and common struggles I, personally, have experienced, along with my parents, (whom could, most certainly, speak even more to the affair than I could), as well.
Have you experienced any closed-off impressions from churches? How do you feel the Church could improve upon these points? Tell me any thoughts or inquisitions you may have below. I have an alternative, more specific story to tell on the same subject, if any of you may be interested, tell me if you would like to hear more on this topic. Over and out! (P.S. I have decided on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday as my posting days, from here on out, if you were curious.)