Sunday, October 16, 2005

Fences


I had a friend (I will call him Al), who does short term missions, visiting my house this week and we had a great time of just talking about the future of ministry, our culture and the need for a new set of paradigms for youth ministry...but that is a whole new post.

Al began to tell me a story where he was in a country where the church was fairly legalistic in its view of faith and religion. Without question the church leaders that were at his seminar desired to reach their communities for Christ but they were setting up barriers. Some of the leaders at the seminar asked him to describe what kind of barriers are they setting up.

So my quick thinking friend looked at one of his team members who was standing at the back of the room and told him to come to the front. The team member began to walk around all the people and Al stopped him in his tracks. The story is paraphrased like this…

Al “Stop where you are…don’t go around everybody. Come straight up the middle to the front."
Team Member “What want me to walk over these people, tables and chairs?”
Al “Yes, crawl over them all to get here.”

At this point the team member began to crawl over desk, chairs, little ladies, old men, pastors and leaders to get to the front. When the team member finally got to the front, Al said “Christians and churches make it that difficult for people to come to Christ. We make them climb fences, jump hurdles, clean up their act…when in reality…all we need to do is turn around and meet them where they are at.”

WOW…we (the church) does build barriers, don’t we?
What have been the barriers that you have built to keep people away? Do people HAVE to come to church first? Do people have to take a shower first? Do people have to take off their hat and wear a white shirt and a tie FIRST? Do people have to appreciate the organ music or song selection FIRST? Do people just have to clean up their act before we will “introduce them” to Jesus…or the church? What do we make people jump over?
OR have people looked at all the obstacles that we have placed in front of them and have they chosen that the church has made this spiritual journey impossible?

Thoughts?

5 comments:

Jamie Arpin-Ricci said...

I attended a local inner city church recently where the speaker talked about the "stench of sin", referencing the body odour of the poor as proof of their depravity. Granted he was a guest speaker, but had I not been a guest I would have asked him to sit down.

I pray that I can lead in such a way that tears down rather build up barriers.

Peace,
Jamie

Little Worshiper said...

I can't speak for our whole church... in terms of how adults who don't normally go to church feel at our church, But with our youth, we accept them as they are. Many of them come from broken homes (actually, most do) and we love them. Many of them have accepted Jesus into their life and understand what he did for them. (these decisions all made outside of the church building mind you...) A few have even started coming to church. 6 had never been to church before. I and the church (to my surprize) let them be who they are. They don't stand when everyone stands to sing. They sit and sing. No one tells them to stand and I don't really care either. I'm just glad they're there and enjoy coming. Many people welcomed them and they were really touched by that. Our pastor really emphasises brining people to Jesus, not "church." At the same time, when they do come to church I feel there's a great effort made to help these youth not feel out of place because they don't act like some of the "churched adults." I like that.

kenny said...

...church...ah, glorious church. Spending time with my brother who struggles with church, mostly because he feels that christians don't live their faith. That they often stink of hypocrysy and often live very selfish lives. Do I agree with him? Honestly a big part of me does. I want to live my faith...and not be defined by church. I want to be in community, walking side by side people, being real with them. Asking questions, digging deep. Pressing into Jesus together. I have jumped and climbed and stepped on enough people in the past to try and live the "good christian way", and it didn't get me very far. I said the right things, sang the right songs and now I just want it real. I just want to communicate and dialogue with others, break bread with people and be creative in my faith.
I am enjoying your entries. Keep em coming...it is good to sit and wonder!
Shalom

Grey Owl said...

That's a fantastic visual image! I'm going to use that someday.

SoulPastor said...

Grey Owl

I wish I could take credit for the image but I can't. But this image is helping us think through the barriers that we may be placing up in our faith community.