My dearest friend moved out of state about a year ago. One of his top priorities was finding a church like One Heart, the one we attended, in his new city. He told me he’s still looking.
“It’s hard,” he said, “finding a church like ours where everyone is so friendly and glad to see you and Biblically based. I really felt at home and comfortable when we were going to One Heart.”
He said he visited a Methodist church just up the road from his house. “When I looked around,” he said, “I was the only one who had a bible. I took out my pad and opened my bible to take notes during the message. I was the only one taking notes. I couldn’t believe it. I looked around again and I noticed some people looking at me like I was crazy.
“What was even worse,” he said, “when the service was over and I got up to leave, no one, not a single person, said one word to me. Not even one!“
Marie and I had an almost identical experience when we first moved to Lawrenceville. We were visiting churches around, and visited a Methodist church just a few miles from our house. When the service was over and we got up to leave, no one said one word to either of us or even smiled. We walked by the pastor and all he did was shake our hands and say, “Good morning.” The pastor knows everyone in his flock. He surely knew we were visitors, yet he and everyone else in that Methodist church that day made us feel unwelcome. Needless to say we never went back.
The church, the Bride of Christ, ought to be one of a few places of refuge left in “the world”. And yet, many church congregations are clannish and cliquish. They’re only comfortable among their own and put little, if any, effort in being a warm, caring place for visitors. Churches like that are few and far between. My friend and I happen to be blessed with a warm, caring churches reaching into the community and the world for Jesus Christ. Our pastor delivers his message with his Bible open and reading passages that relate to his message. And EVERY visitor I’ve ever encountered receives warm regards not only from our pastor, but from members of our church family.
A Christian blog recently addressed the trend among young people leaving the church. A Millennial responded, “I’m a millennial who left [the church] for many reasons. I was often treated poorly by Christians, which I took to be human nature. But, when I worked at a “Christian” establishment the only person who was decent to me was the only non-Christian–a gay Wicca (pagan).”
Shame on us.