Exclusive Church

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A friend shared this story with me & it made me very frustrated:

I was a youth pastor at a large evangelical church made up of primarily middle class, suburban, white families. A man who ran a center for urban foster children began bringing African American teen boys to the church and youth events. The teens, while at times a bit crass in their language, were respectful and interested in getting to know the other youth and being a part of the events. After coming to the church and youth events for a month or two, there began to be complaints and worries from parents about having these teens be a part of the youth group. After much conversation and against my strong opposition, the church leadership decided to tell them that they could only come to church services and were not allowed to be a part of the youth events, leading to them eventually leaving the church all together. I was heartbroken that we had given the impression of the church “not wanting” these teens who already had deep feelings of being not wanted by their parents.
— Friend

This story frustrates me greatly. If the Church is not a place for the outcast, what is the church to be? If we live and die by the term community, at the heart of a thriving one is Inclusivity. My friend went on to say in reflection: "This is a perfect example of the way that our fear of the 'other' affects the message that we preach. "

We should be so inclusive that sometimes our comfort is ignored in order for an outsider to feel like an insider. 

This is not easy, but as divisions continue in our world, the church (us) need to be people who stand above it.We should be known for our warm hospitality not our cold judgment.

I don't know what this means for you. But I'm going to start inviting those who are "on the fringe" to my next social event. I'm going to do everything in my power to welcome those who feel ignored into a relationship with me where they feel heard. 

Let's ignore our comfort in order to be inclusive

Jake VaydaComment