As we welcome visitors (there are some just about every week!), I invite you to be challenged by these observations by Scott Dannemiller who posted these thoughts in Huffington Post, May 6, 2015 (huffingtonpost.com/scott-dannemiller/the-church-is-not-your-home_b_7217926.html)
“When I work with congregations, I often ask the members what they love most about their church. And 9 times out of 10, the response is, ‘It’s like a big family.’
“And every time I hear this, I cringe a little.
“Please don’t misunderstand me. Families are beautiful. My own family is incredibly welcoming. At the same time, we’re also loud and boisterous and overwhelming. We have inside jokes and tired old stories. If you’re spending Thanksgiving with us for the first time it can be downright exhausting. And exclusive. As an outsider, you are left to try and quickly understand decades of history and assimilate quickly.
“And we ask our church guests to do the exact same thing. We treat them like guests.
“Like guests in our home.
“It’s a wonderful analogy, isn’t it? We roll out the red carpet for houseguests. We offer them our best food and drink. We break out the fine china. Heck, we even let them use the special towels that normally stay locked behind some sort of invisible force field in our bathrooms, never to be touched by an actual family member.
“If welcoming were an Olympic sport, churches would be Michael Phelps, only with coffee stations and tuna hot dish. But here’s the problem:
“I’m afraid the mindset behind our welcoming spirit might slowly, subtly be killing our church.
“Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying our churches should stop welcoming visitors. And I’m not saying church shouldn’t feel like a place where you belong. What I am saying is that we need to stop viewing our churches as our homes. And here’s the reason.
“While I am very welcoming to my guests, I also see my home as mine. A possession.
“But the church is not our home. We do not possess it. We are caretakers of our church, not owners. So today I pray that this will be our call. That we may tirelessly look for ways to be caretakers of the church. To look for ways to use our buildings and our gifts not for ourselves, but for others. And in so doing, may the light of Christ show through our generosity. Our openness. And our unselfishness. Reaching out to the family of God.”
I’d value hearing your responses to this article. I hope it challenged you, as it did me. Please comment below.