Last night both sides of the church had been unlocked for the Wednesday night dinner. I went over about 9:00 to lock the church. One side of the church has the parsonage where the pastor lives and the other side has a pretty smooth, concrete parking lot. When I went out the doors (from inside the church) to the parking lot side of the church to lock them, I surprised some people who were watching their little kids riding bikes and trikes on the parking lot/sidewalk just outside the church doors. They surprised me as well. I said hello and a young man responded not with “Hello”, but with “Is it a problem that we’re on the parking lot?” I said, “No, it’s not a problem at all. We love it when little ones ride bikes on the parking lot.” And he said, “Well, everyone doesn’t feel that way.” I know what he means. Not all businesses and churches welcome people on their parking lot after hours. Some even have signs up saying – no bikes, no skateboards, etc.
What kind of message would it send to them if I had told them that we would prefer they take their kids elsewhere to ride their bikes? Would it convey to them that our church is a welcoming family friendly place? That’s a rhetorical question (a question that doesn’t require an answer.) There’s a reason that many people who don’t go to church think poorly of the church. Over the years the church (not just our church, but the church in general) has earned the reputation we now have. Ghandi (who was Hindu) once famously said, “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.”
If the Gospel offends people, I think God is OK with that. What I don’t think God is OK with, is if we offend people with our own pettiness. I think Jesus is OK if I offend people by saying, “Repent and believe the Good News.” I don’t think Jesus would like it if I offended people by running them and their kids off the church parking lot.
I totally agree with you, many churches and or Christian are not much different from the world, if not even worse. I have the privilege to see what goes on behind the curtains in churches and it is not always a pretty picture and far from “Christ-like. Blessings, Freddy.