It caught my eye. A sign. Lots of places have signs and I like finding those with cute or catchy sayings; some very funny signs are outside churches:
- “Wal-mart isn’t the only saving place.”
- “Experts made the Titanic, amateurs made the ark.”
- “God answers knee-mail.”
You get the idea, you can find many more on the internet. The church sign that caught my eye today was simple and to the point,
“Christians Meet Here”
My first crushing thought was, “No wonder people hate us.” I was offended by this sign. Is this church saying they have an exclusive club that only Christians are invited to join? Are non-Christians not welcome to attend a service or event? Is it an arrogant declaration that Christians are better than everyone else? Now, I realize there is more than one way to interpret and read this sign and I am sincerely hoping that this church had the best of intentions but to me that was unclear.
Sadly, a common reason people give for NOT going to church is that they did not feel welcomed, they felt out of place or they did not feel like they fit in. One of the things that made me fall in love with Jesus was His ability to speak to anyone and make everyone feel like they had His undivided attention for those moments; He looked at people. I suggest we, like Jesus, need to much more intentional when we attend our churches.
We need to be intentional in looking for someone we don’t know, especially anyone who looks confused or seems to be alone. We need to be intentional in focusing on the person we don’t know rather than our comfortable group of friends. We need to be intentional in not sitting in our “self-assigned”,same seat but moving around so we can greet someone we have not greeted in the past. Oh, and just another pet peeve, I hate greeting time; if you are the “new person” it is terribly awkward when everyone else is hugging and talking and you are just standing there. Pastors, if your church does a greeting time, keep it very short – I have been in churches where greetings went on for several minutes; I never go back to those churches.
Church is not about me and getting my needs met; that is a blessed by-product of church participation. Church is about what I can offer to God and His people. The only thing God wants, the most important thing to bring to church is my heart, uncertain, searching, broken, wounded, open and sometimes full. Had that sign, Christians Meet Here, been on the church I visited years ago my unbelieving heart might still be on the outside looking in…
My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? James 2:1 – 4