Friday, April 17, 2009

Invitations continued ...

My buddy Tim makes a great point in his comment to my previous post about invitations follow up. He states that for some they may hesitate to invite people to church because church has been the cause of much pain in their life. I believe that to be true. After nearly 26 years in ministry I have seen much pain in the church, much pain from people involved in the church inflicted on one another. I have experienced some of it first hand.

One difficult thing about church is that it is made up of people, regular people with all their faults, fears and failures. These do not disappear just because they attend church and they don't instantly reverse when a person chooses to become a Christ follower. This creates a great deal of excruciating conflict. The conflict being that we have a tendency to assume that church is the safest, most secure and compassionate place on earth. That is the hope anyway. However, the church is made up of people. People with all those faults, fears and failures. Then we expect them to be nothing like that, if they are part of the church. Especially if they are the pastors.

Don't get me wrong, I have the same hope for the church to be the safest, most secure and compassionate place. Ironically I also hope for the church to be a very unsafe place. Unsafe if you are trying to be tw0-faced. Unsafe if you are trying to follow your will instead of Christ's will for your life.

My dream is for the church to be a place where anyone can walk in and be welcomed. Be treated compassionately. A place where your appearance and personal choices do not impact how you will be treated. Whether we agree with the person's choices or not they should still be welcomed and treated compassionately, because I believe that's how Jesus would treat them.

Getting back to the point of invitations and why we don't invite people to our churches, we need to make sure that we are welcoming people. That we are helping heal some hurts and change the perceptions of those who believe the church is a closed society. I don't always get it right, but I want to welcome people warmly and treat them compassionately, in or out of church. I must confess that I am typing this through tears. This is a really big deal to me. I am passionate about Christ and about the church. I desperately want the church to be the church. There are also many times that I consider doing something other than pastoring so I can really minister. But for now, I will keep trying to be the church personally and trying to influence others to do the same and to try to have the place where I pastor at the moment be the church in our community.


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