I think most of us have experienced one time or another, feeling like an outsider, inside a church. If you haven’t experienced it yourself, maybe you have had a conversation with someone who doesn’t feel like they are welcomed. You know, we can’t have “them” in the church, they wear jeans, have tattoos, or have a different haircut. There are plenty of examples of those “inside” the church creating an “us vs. them” mentality. Jesus is the perfect example of loving people who didn’t always fit “the mold.”
This chapter begins by explaining the importance for churches to not simply continue what they have always done, or to try to tweak what they always have done and package it in a new way, but to truly make a change to reach the post-civil rights movement. If churches are going to be welcoming to all people, it needs to be ALL, not just those that look like the 99% that sits in the pews regularly.
I particularly like this from page 50, “It is one thing to eat with those who are unfit and quite another to go into their domain. Jesus went to their domain.” This is based on Matthew 9:10 where Jesus goes and eats at the home of a tax collector. Everything the church does seems to be focused on the masses coming to the church: worship, Bible study, carry-in meals, fall festivals, and the list goes on. If we change our thinking to focus on the gospel and not on our own comforts and ambitions, then maybe the post-civil rights generation will be more willing to engage in the faith community.
I feel as though the church is missing the point. In changing, it’s not about having more programs, or ministry opportunities, it about having genuine conversations, building relationships, and hearing the gospel from a personal perspective. Our faith isn’t something we do, it’s who we are. Once the church gets that, then maybe we can move it forward.