You may remember me talking about the awesome VBS experience my kids had a couple of weeks ago. We decided to visit on a Sunday and were pleasantly surprised with what we found. The church is not too terribly big--I like that. It's non-denominational. I can live with that. The kids have made new friends, and it is outstanding!
One of the things that has really turned me off to the local S. Baptist churches and kind of irked me at the same time is that they are so very crowded. No one knows one another. Maybe I am spoiled because I came from a wonderful church family where everyone knew each other and on top of that, they knew my children. Not in the 'remember their names' sort of way, but in the way that they knew things about them. They knew Milan would talk their ears off and boss the other little girls around. They knew how to handle Xander. They knew that Jagger would be the first one at the food and that he needed an extra push to behave. They knew Harley worked hard at learning his verses and even dubbed him 'Pastor Harley' for a time.
The hardest issue that I have run into though has been the fashion parades that visit these churches. I think of it as the 'hair and purse' parade. For the life of me I will never understand wearing high heels in 6 inches of snow or revealing outfits to church.
I must sound like such a prude.
I don't envy them their clothing or their jewelry or their Coach purses. Truth be told, I have never been like that. The picture to the right above my profile is the most dressed up I have been in the last several years. (Special occasion.)
I watched quietly as these power women struck up their conversations about their latest shopping excursions, carried in the muffins they had prepared in Macy's bags, and thought nothing of the girl sitting in the corner in jeans. It was my first day.
My children were released from their Sunday school classes looking pretty glum. I asked what the problem was. They had been in classes that sat 30 or more children per grade level and felt just as lonely as I did. We did not return.
I knew that I would be looking for a place that focused on the real purpose of attending. A place we could call home, and people we could call family. A place where people didn't just dump their children into a classroom, but where parents were genuinely interested in what they were learning. A place where people knew the children. A place where children were being led to be leaders because they had leaders to follow.
I wore my jeans to the service. I cannot even remember if I wore makeup, so I probably didn't. I wanted to know that people would accept me for me. That they would accept my children and they would be welcomed with a genuine heart. God answered our prayer.
When was the last time you had a visitor that did not quite fit the mold? Did they have tattoos? I do. Did they wear jeans? I do. Would you accept us and welcome us if we were to visit you? Would you invite us to join your family?
Sometimes the welcome is not presented...and you lose the opportunity to be the type of person you are called to be. Sometimes those people walk away and forget why they tried to seek out community in the first place. Sometimes this hardens their heart towards "Christians".
However, the person who steps up first to shake a hand or say hello is usually the person they will never forget.
Who will you be?