May 30, 2017
There’s a young woman who struggled with the church. She went for a while, exploring different church options, but she found most of the churches to be unwelcoming and unfriendly. She’d sit alone, with no one ever taking the time to speak with her beyond greeting her at the door. Now she’s walked away from the church. This is an experience all too common among many new church-goers. The perspective that churches are unwelcoming is extremely widespread, especially among younger generations, even Christians.
What’s the solution? Tony Morgan has suggested the practice of becoming a “there you are” person instead of a “here I am” person and of becoming a “there you are” church instead of a “here I am” church.
A “there you are” person walks into a room and, with their actions, says: “There you are. You’re important. I’d like to get to know you.” Jesus did this again and again. Jesus pursued people. He noticed them. He sought them out. He called people by name. When Jesus walked into a room, he actively reached out to those who were alone, those who were hurting.
It’s sad when the church is mostly a collection of “here I am” people who walk into a room and, with their actions (or lack of), say: “Here I am. Come talk to me.” It’s sad in the church when we don’t make the first effort with people who are new, when we fail to notice them or to seek them out.
My prayer for Journey is that we will be a “there you are” church. I hope we will caringly connect with other people, especially newcomers, and not expect them to come to us first. I hope we’ll take the initiative to introduce ourselves and sensitively ask meaningful questions, attempting to really get to know people. I hope everyone will feel truly welcome and accepted and important in our church. Let’s all commit to do our best in embracing that, even if it means getting out of our comfort zones. Let’s make it happen!