In the interests of full disclosure, I wrote some of this earlier this year on another blog, and now I’m remixing and expanding my thoughts a little bit.
After all, is God the God of the Jews only? Isn’t he also the God of the Gentiles? Of course he is. There is only one God, and he makes people right with himself only by faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles.—Romans 3:29-30 (NLT)
Jesus said that He came to save those who are sick, not those who are healthy. In other words, those who need Jesus the most are the ones who understand they are sinners who need a Savior. Those who believe they are fine and are not sinners don’t believe they need to be saved.
So, let’s think of the church as a hospital. What do you want when you go to a hospital? Do you want to go to a hospital that uses modern equipment? Do you want a hospital where you will get the best doctors and the best care? Do you want to go to a hospital where you are comfortable and your recovery can be accelerated by the environment you’re in?
Why, then, are churches primarily built and organized for the benefit of the people who have grown up in church and have a steady and consistent relationship with Jesus?
Have you ever noticed that when you go to visit someone in the hospital that there is usually no comfortable place to sit? The chairs in the waiting room are leftovers, the chairs in the recovery rooms are usually minimal and stiff, and in some cases, there isn’t enough seating for everyone.
If a church is stiff, unwelcoming, uninviting, and flat-out difficult, how do you think visitors and the lost are going to react? Yet, that seems to still be a problem with church these days, despite the post-modern and seeker-sensitive movements.
Church is primarily for the saved and their comfort. We don’t want to relax the music, because that will bring in unchurched people. We don’t want to support the community through outreach, because that will bring in unchurched people. These aren’t the ways that these statements are phrased in church, but they have the same outcome.
Christians tend to think of church as our home and God as our God. That’s fine, because a personal relationship with God is what He desires and what is most beneficial and meaningful to us. The church should be our home and we should be in fellowship with other believers as much as possible. I am a firm believer that the church building should be used as much as possible.
However, we can’t make God “our” God to the exclusion of everyone else, especially at this time of year when more people are seeking Jesus than usual. We can’t focus just on traditional music if you want younger people to connect. We can’t build a church on cliques if you want outsiders to connect. We can’t throw potlucks and celebrations for ourselves and not invite the community in to join us. Jesus told us that we need to be there for those who are hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, grieving, lost…
How do we do it? I don’t know… I guess I only see the problems. I’m not sure if I know the solutions, but I think it’s useful to get the dialogue going. Do you have any thoughts or counterpoints? Leave them in the comments if you’d like.