It may surprise you that I still wrestle with what it means to be a church.
I’m not sure I ever will stop wrestling. However, recently we’ve discussed our steady growth and how can we have a big front door (to allow people to come in and become part of us) and yet keep a small back door (so people want to stay with us rather than leave).
One thing I am aware of is how easy it is to be in a crowd and feel utterly alone, our church needs to be a place where no-one stands alone.
The comedian Robin Williams said: “I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel all alone".
I don’t pretend to understand his hurting or despair but I do know that there is a world full of people feeling that way, and I’m desperate for that not to be reflected in Christ’s church.
I believe God’s heart is that we model something different.
God desires that His church change that, but to do so requires effort.
Matthew 9:36 says: “Seeing the people, Jesus felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and downcast like sheep without a shepherd.”
We must develop compassion.
Our default can be to find our “friends” and then to forget about everyone else.
None us like being the ‘outsider’ – feeling like we are looking in. Once we feel included however it’s easy to forget what it felt like, and what it may feel like for others.
We desire a church where everyone feels like they can be a part and play their part.
1 Corinthians 14 26: “So here’s what I want you to do. When you gather for worship, each one of you be prepared with something that will be useful for all: Sing a hymn, teach a lesson, tell a story, lead a prayer, provide an insight.” The Message
It takes the whole of our church to nurture a culture where no-one stands alone.
We will need to allow some the choice to stay in the shadows (some need their own time and space), but we need to make sure we welcome, include, and connect those who are ready to get involved.