Growing up I was raised in a church that taught “All are welcome.” My pastor lifted up scriptures about how Jesus loved the poor, the stranger, the widows, and the orphans. We heard about how he hung out with some people who were considered alcoholics and others considered adulterous. Jesus said, “Let all the children come to me.”
My pastor’s message often centered on how Jesus started
a religious revolution, where he turned the tables around on who was welcome in God’s house.
I was raised to believe that we are to love as God has loved. It wasn’t long after my own confirmation that I began to “check out” the big giant Baptist church down the street. They bought all of the land on several city blocks. They also bought a strip mall area for a singles and youth ministry.
I went with some “popular” friends. My jaw dropped as I listened to a “teen talk” that warned these “Christian disciples” about hanging out with people who would take them down the wrong path in life. The young good looking pastor, dressed in stylish clothes, told fiery horror stories of what happened to sinners. He made it clear we should pity them, but distance ourselves. The outcasts were not welcome. God’s love was reserved for some, but not others. It was the exact opposite message of the Good
News and love that I had heard from church.
Now, that was nearly 30 years ago. Well, not too long ago,
I felt rage well up inside of me as I heard another pastor preach a similar message about excluding people. The message was bent on religious purity. He drew lines een “us and them.” We are pure. They are not.
If they conform to our absolute ways they are welcome, but until then, they are to be kept at a distance. The message hurled me back to my youth, where I felt like crying for every person who was not “clean cut” enough for this church. I have begun to feel more and more like some of our “Christian” Churches re not teaching the love and grace of Jesus. They are teaching exclusive fear based dogma. It worries me that my unchurched friends think this is what all churches teach. This is why I feel like now is the time to invest more into our Christian Education and Youth programming. We have a unique message of Good News.
It is infused with the grace of Jesus Christ instead of condemnation.
This fall we will begin our Wednesday Night Revolutions. We will make disciples who follow the revolutionary way and love Jesus. These will be some of the programs offered:
Elementary Youth Rally and Study
Adult Bible Study
Wednesday Worship and a Message
An Intergenerational Church Dinner
Press On for Junior High and Senior High
We are planning for this night to be a way to reach out in new ways. We hope to draw new families and more youth. We hope our senior high youth, especially Juniors and Seniors, will help grow the elementary program by using their gifts to teach and lead the younger children. We hope to empower our adults to find ways to grow in Christ outside of Sunday morning worship. We will provide relevant Bible studies for real people dealing with real life issues. We will learn to practice the ways of Christ. All are Welcome from the youngest child to the oldest member.
Do you want a revolution? More to come….
Blessings, Rev. Trey Hegar