It’s been a while since I wrote my last blog.
I’ve written over 50 drafts all of which are unfinished, considered different ways to share ideas conceived in the most obtuse places and situations in my life, but the one idea that has stuck with me the longest over the last few weeks, is the idea that I probably know least about.
It came out of a conversation I had with the CEO of a mission organisation in New Zealand.
I’m unsure of how our conversation got to this point, but our meeting turned into a discussion about where the church is weak – and I can speak frankly about this because I’m a part of the wider church I’m talking about.
An idea came out of our discussions which blew my mind. It rocked how I see one of our (the churches) biggest shortcomings.
I do understand that for some smarter than myself this may be something that has been on the radar for quite some time, but in my world this idea really shook me for the first time ever. The idea came out of this story.
The person I was speaking with told me a story of when he and his church at the time had organised an outdoor event celebrating a special date in the history of the Christian church in his country. He told me they had planned the event with aplomb, plenty of seating for all guests and an airtight programme for the events proceedings.
The event started, members of the hosting church began to speak and everything was going to plan – until members of the public began to respond to the event.
People passing by stopped and listened, others heckled, others sat around those seated to participate in what was happening – and this was not the plan. The person I was talking to told me they began to panic. He told me as people began to respond to their event in ways they had not anticipated – they were not ready. They didn’t know how to respond to those who weren’t invited.
This struck a chord with me. I couldn’t help but be reminded of other situations I had experienced of churches being ill equipped to respond well to the – ‘uninvited’.
I’ve been to churches where the doors are locked if people don’t arrive to church on time (this also means the ‘uninvited’ are locked out too). I’ve been to churches where they’re more concerned with a smooth running church programme than embracing the ‘uninvited’ who walk in off the street wanting to know more about the love the church so boldly preaches about. I’ve even been in churches where the ‘uninvited’ have been asked to leave fearing more for the flow of the service than for that persons immediate need.
I’m unsure if this has been an issue in the churches history, but in my experience this is definitely an issue in the churches present.
In my experience – a large part of the western church (especially in the middle class) are still novices at responding to the ‘uninvited’. In our pursuit of ‘righteousness’ we’ve isolated ourselves, grown scared of the people and groups that we should be drawn to. Our concern has become more about the comfort of our 99, than the outright priority of the 1.
This has turned into a bit of a rant and to be honest I don’t even know where this piece is heading. All I know is that our admission as a wider church that we have been rubbish at dealing with the ‘uninvited’ could spark a real movement in making the ‘uninvited’ the priority again in our meetings, in our communities, in our lives.
Am I going crazy? Have I missed the boat or should someone be screaming at me DILLUSION? I’m not sure. But that’s the topic that has stuck with me most over the past few weeks. Feel free to add to this conversation if you think I’m nuts. Thank you for humouring me.
Image credit: http://blogs.psychcentral.com