My Bad Church Experience (Welcome and Serve – Be all to all)

Posted: August 12, 2013 in Messages
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My Bad Church Experience

(Welcome and Serve – Be all to all)

 Text: Ephesians 4:1-5  I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism.

Today we are starting a new series My Bad Church Experience. Intended to be a community where all are welcome and that we love to be a part of, far too often something strange or downright nasty happens that makes us wonder if life as church is worth the weirdness. In this series we’ll share our stories and scars of how church can go wrong so that together we can continue to be a community that–despite our brokenness–brings great blessing to others.

We all have gone to a church and said this place is not for me, it’s too churchy, or those people are weird.  Ask anyone on the street right now and they will give you a million and one reasons why they are not sitting in one of these pews.  From an un-churched or de-churched person’s point of view, church is a place that you have to be somewhat perfect; act a certain way; follow a certain protocol.  We as a church put barriers in front and say you must go through a complete overhaul of who you are to be part of us, and then you take a 7months course on membership, join a ministry then another 7months course to be baptized.  They must prove that they are worthy to be part of our world.  To the un-churched / de-churched this is a place to avoid.  The un-churched / de-churched are walking in those doors with a guarded attitude.  They apply all of their past experiences to what they will be walking into.  And rightly so, as a Church with a “C” around the world have made it impossible to fit in.  The Church is more fixated on how they should sound, look and feel; fixated on traditions and costumes rather than be welcoming and loving.  Many church fall because of the disagreements over these issues, which leads to a lack of unity.  A church that is not unified turns people away.  How can we as a neighborhood church reverse ‘The Bad Church Experience’?

A few years ago my wife and I were visiting different churches.  We were trying to find a place where we fit in.  While visiting different churches we were met with indifference.  At times people made us feel as if we were unworthy to be part of their group.   Walking into a church, felt like walking into a new school.   It felt like everyone knew each other and formed their own clicks.  Coffee hour was like a high school lunch room where no one really made room for you at their table.   Some of the churches we went to we had to dress a certain way; skirts had to be a certain length; you couldn’t have too much make-up; or you had to wear a suit.  All those things were great but I thought to myself is all of this going to bring us closer to HIM?

Just this past week, I had a conversation with a coworker about this very same subject.  Susan was telling me that she was seeking love, peace, happiness and spirituality.  I forwarded her a Psalm.  She said she was interested but felt like she couldn’t relate; she said it wasn’t for her.  Instead, she looks for self-help books to help her fill the void.  She was a person like any other who attend a church and unfortunately was turned off from the beginning.  Here I am a wonderful spiritually leader, trying to lead her in the right direction but due to her past experience she is very skeptical.  We are losing souls to self-help books; books that have 7 steps on how to be a better person, feel better about yourself, love yourself, how to become a billionaire.

In both these examples we have people seeking something.  We have people with needs.  Isn’t our calling to fulfill those needs? St. Paul says it clear in 1 Corinthians 9:22- To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.  We as a Church must learn to be all to all. As Christ was all to all, to the prostitute he was their savor, to the blind he was their sight and to lame and sick he was their healer.  He was all to all.  If we are the body of Christ we are called to be all to all as a church, as one body.  We are anointed to do His work.  As today’s text says, “there is one body and one spirit just as you were called to one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith one baptism…”  together as a church to fulfill our calling.

God chose us to do his works, each and every one of you not only the Pastors or the church workers; all of us as a church. Our purpose is to glorify God so we can be a blessing to others.  It is time to renew our minds and our ways so we can do what God requires of us according to his will.  I know to some this may be uncomfortable.  Coming out of our comfort zone is not easy.  Meeting new people, going the extra mile to get to know them is not easy.  But if we want our family to grow, we must be willing to come out of our box.  – Be all to all

As our goal is to be a neighborhood church, don’t be discouraged by the fact that you may not know the bible cover to cover.  Don’t feel like you are not worthy enough to minister.  Be willing to approach your neighbor as you are.  Remember through our baptism we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit let it guide you, let it speak for you.  Here are some words of encouragement through the scriptures. St. Paul states in 1 Corinthians 1:26-28 this:  for consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are.”.  Here is another ST. John in Revelations says (1: 5b-6) To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father”.  And finally ST. Peter in 1 Peter 2:4-6a:  As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

We need to welcome our calling so don’t down play yourselves you are able. We are given gift of The Holy Spirit for this main reason, to be a blessing by any means.

In the final days before Christ was nailed to the cross he gave to his disciples a new commandment Love one another. As I have loved you” I know it’s not easy to do so, thus the reason we need the Holy Spirit to help us with this.  What Jesus meant was to share the blessing, the good news, the Gospel of Salvation and forgiveness to all.  I see it this way we all are predestined and ordained by God for His will and works.  We as a church should be confident in our calling.  As Christ pursued us we should pursued them.  So regardless of what your role is, as a band member, greeter, usher, sound booth operator, church cook (aka my wife) or pastor we are responsible as members of HIS family to love one another as Christ loves us.   A good church mimics God’s love.  So when the un-churched /de-churched have entered those doors we should welcome them, love them and give them the good news.

The reason our Lord God came down from heaven to earth to pursue us so he can to save his people by sacrificing himself and shed his blood for us all.  We have received the blessings of our Lord in order to bless others.  Now it’s time to share the true gift of salvation to those who are broken and in need of his grace.  By being a neighborhood church we provide not only the true word but also ourselves in service so the un-churched / de-churched can come and feel welcome and experience God’s mercy and love.

Brothers and sisters now its times for change lets us welcome and love the un-churched and de-churched and win their souls for Christ.  How do we do that?  By working with each other in unity and submit ourselves to HIS will and call as one; by not shying away from the truth; by not succumbing to our fears.  And know this, Our Lord will help us and we will not be disgraced.  So we should be determined to be all to all.

So open those doors to the broken, the lost, to our families, friends and our neighbors and to all sinners like us. Lets us welcome them with open and loving arms.  Amen



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