Church: From an Insider to the Outsiders
I recently invited a new friend to come to church with me. Church has always been like a second home, a place I've frequented more than once a week from my earliest memories, a place I love and cherish. When I was describing what the experience would be like to this friend who has never found a home in a church, I realized how intimidating the whole thing can seem.
I realized church can feel like a club, and I rarely realize it, because I'm on the inside of it. But for those who haven't ever been, for those who don't know what church is, it can feel like an exclusive society with strict rules and closed doors. Oh, how that breaks my heart.
You say church, and people think pews. They think angry pastors yelling about hell, or they think quiet priests in long robes, or they think televangelists with motivational messages. They think hymns, or maybe a rock-style band, or maybe chanted prayers. They think suits and ties, they think sit-down-stand-up-sit-down-stand-up.
They probably think of the Christians they know, and that probably comes with a flood of hurt and bitterness and reminders of hypocrisy.
I love church and the Church because it's home to me. But are we making it feel like home to you, too?
When I think church, I think love. I think acceptance, open arms, warm greetings, laughter, community. I think of all the people coming together who might never cross paths in ordinary life, but who are family here because of this place and this faith. I think of all the many hearts striving toward one common goal together: more love for God and more love for each other and more love for our own selves. I think of surrender and sacrifice, and the freedom that comes when I let it all go.
I think of how my heart comes alive when I get to worship my God with my people. I think of how my mind is challenged and provoked by the sermon every week. I think of how I feel so much less alone when I see all the faces around me. I think of how refreshed I feel by being together.
I want you to feel that too. I want you to come into church and leave feeling loved. I want you to experience worship and leave feeling joyful. I want you to hear us pray and leave knowing you can talk to God too. I want you to hear the sermon and leave wondering more about God. I want you to shake our hands and see our faces and know we are for you, never against you.
I want you to know I'm sorry for the churches who have hurt you. I'm sorry for the doors that slammed in your face instead of opening wide to let you in. I'm sorry for the Christians who have wronged you or made you feel like love wasn't for you. I'm sorry.
We are only human, and we fail. We love God, but we don't always act like Him. We call ourselves Christians and we daily fall short of all that title means.
But I know a good God, and I love His house and I want you to feel at home there with me.
From someone inside the church to everyone who feels like they're on the outside, hear me say:
We are the Church, and we want to know you.
We are the Church, and we want to love you.
We are the Church, and we want to welcome you.
Come, and see who we are.