I came to visit, fairly shaken by the things I’ve seen, heard, and experienced that call themselves Christian in America today. I was spiritually, emotionally tired of all of it, and just about ready to walk away in disgust, not from God, but definitely from everything that called itself ‘of God’ in my society. And then I walked through your doors and into your life.
You know that story about the new pastor who dressed as a beggar, walked in, and was shunned? Yeah, I know the feeling. I saw eyes avert and people walk away. I notice when no one says good morning. You say every Christian should go to church, but I haven’t found much Christianity within churches. Do you realize it would be easier to come if someone acted like they cared that I was there? Someone besides the one asking for or receiving (or being paid by the funds of ) the offering? Do you know that I have a pretty good memory… and when you tell me that you treat visitors and attenders pretty much the same but then ignore my questions, or tell me that you address a certain question I ask in your small groups (which emailed you asking to join and never heard back from you on)… or worse, let me know that you really focus on members, not the rest of us, when I do ask questions… that I remember your first response and count that as a sign of untrustworthiness?
Do you realize that those rare times when you take the time to hear me, when you answer a question or even just say hello because you mean it, I see that too? Do you know that if you’d love me you might find a great deal to love about me, that if you’d put into me some of what you expect out of me–if you’d give me some of your time, some care and compassion and understanding, you might get the same?
You might. I could be mistaken, but I believe you are supposed to reach out to the world, not expect the world to come knocking at your door. I believe the intent is that you love one another and all the rest of us too.
It’s a little strange. The things that have impacted me most over the years have been a simple chaplain’s prayer, a pastor who was willing to change a tire, and a friend’s happiness that I came. Nothing major, and no program. Those things cost nothing, but they meant everything. I was in an office, in a parking lot, at a restaurant, in a home. There were no steeples, no mics, no bulletins, no bibles. And yet at those times I experienced true church.