Just over a year ago Missy and I started attending a new church while finishing up graduate school. While within just a few weeks we fell in love with this congregation, the first Sunday there was very strange for us. Any church we had ever been to was a place we had connections and relationships with. The first Sunday here we walked through the hallways jammed full of 1000+ people an no one said a word to us. We walked into the auditorium and weren’t welcomed by anyone. After the closing prayer we weren’t greeted and didn’t have a single conversation before leaving.
It was a very odd experience. But in many ways it was one of the most important church experiences I have ever had. It reminded me how many people first feel when they are at a new church. It put me in the shoes of many that I had thought I could relate with but realized that my everyday church experiences and theirs are totally different. How many invisible people do we have in our churches? How many come once or twice and never return?
When you look at the ministry of Jesus he spent lots of his time with the invisibles. The Gospel of Luke is a prime place to experience the side of Jesus that was a sucker for the underdog and was most fulfilled with people we would be least fulfilled with. There is such a BIG challenge for us to make church a place that is comfortable for everyone and not just assume that just because we are comfortable they are comfortable. Jesus did many miracles in his day but one of the greatest was the opposite of making people disappear. He took the invisible people of his day and made them highly visible and showed them how much God really loves them! Let’s go and do likewise!
Excellent thoughts. THis can happen in a church of any size. Danny Dodd has a post on this same subject on his blog.
What a disservice we’ve don’t to Jesus’ work by confining our people to ornate buildings. We need to get the message out of the confines of our buildings and into the world where we’ve been called.
Matt, when I was at Sunset (somewhere around Sept 1976), I was asked to visit a nearby congregation to encourage them to come to Sunset’s World Evangelism Forum. The preacher knew I was coming and was set to give me about 5 minutes during announcements on a Wed evening. The congregation was not really all that big, probably under 200. No one spoke to us before we arrived and no one spoke afterwards. I thought that odd.
During a week long class at Harding Grad one of my classmates wanted to go to the Getwell congregation for Wed services. There were maybe 35 people present. The preacher taught the adult class and focused a lot on how bad Harding Grad was. In spite of the harangue we were greeted by almost everyone in the congregation and invited out to eat. What a pleasant greeting we received from these folks. I thought that rather odd as well.
During our campaign we got to meet a lot of invisible people while door knocking. Many of our contacts didn’t come from homes where we knocked but from people visiting the neighborhood and being approached by us. That was a great blessing.
Thanks for the information and the encouragement. I will have a look at Danny’s thoughts. Thank you for all the hard work you do!
I think God made it pretty clear that he does not dwell in buildings made with human hands when Solomon dedicated the temple. Somehow some people think that is the only place to find him. Why? Because maybe they can’t tell his people are anywhere else. That is sad to me.
Thanks for those stories. I have to apologize for having a negative attitude toward Getwell at times. They once said that anyone from HUGSR should not be allowed to be a minister or an elder. That hurts me to the core. But that does not excuse my attitude toward them at times and I don’t really even know them. I have a lot to work on.
Oh, and I hope to see the two of you in Orlando in a few weeks. Maybe John Dobbs could join us 🙂
if this experience of which you speak happened at the last place you worshiped before your left Memphis, I would like to apologize from the bottom of my heart! As much as we want to be a curch that helps people see Jesus, sometimes, we get busy with our own lives and fail to see the needs of others.
This is something we all need to work on from time to time. Thanks for reminding me and others of the importantce of reaching out to those around you and may God forgive us all when we fail to do so!
You know we love that church with all of our hearts. We really believe God wanted us to be there and really had a hard time leaving! We love you guys and miss you dearly.
Last night we had a time of prayer in our groups. I added your healing from that accident to our list. God bless you.