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Second Rate Substitute

September 16, 2013

“People long for Christ’s community of grace, and when they don’t get it from church, they find alternative, broken ways to get a cheap substitute.”[1]

People want to be in community with others. This desire for community is what fills the bars. The question we, as the church, need to ask is, “How accepting are we of others?”

Churches frequently expect people to arrive at their church as a ready-made Christian. They expect these newcomers to know the answers to their own questions. Many times the church members make no effort to meet the visitors. I have actually heard a church member ask a visitor to move because they were sitting in their seat! Is that how we show grace and mercy to others?

Our churches need to be a welcoming place. A place where someone who showed up in their pajama pants and slippers will be accepted. What about the person who shows up after their Saturday night at their favorite bar smelling like booze still? Will they feel welcome? Are single parents treated the same as everyone else?

This week, ask yourself and the church staff what needs to be done to show the welcoming, “come as you are,” grace of Christ to those who walk in your doors.

[1] John Burke. No Perfect People Allowed: Creating a Come As You Are Culture in the Church. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005). 176

  1. One of the things we speak of as Christians is that church is “more than a club or a community.” But then we turn around and say “why is that person involved in so many other clubs that they can’t come to church functions. Aren’t we enough for them?” The key is finding balance in creating a community of grace where people actually want to be involved in the church body and functions and not come as an observer on Sunday mornings. Great post!

    • Thank you. We (the church) tend to limit the ways we can serve and find community. We need to be open to odd ways to do things to reach new people in a natural way. For example, there is a local Church of Christ in town that has a service which meets in a bar before they open. It is booming! No alcohol served and the service is growing. It is a wonderful, and unique, way to reach out to those who would enter a church.

      Doing this church they are seeing the bar (aka – second rate substitute) cannot match the community of church. Unique ideas, outside the box work. These seem to be the voices which are growing in love and mercy.

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