5 ways to be a ‘nice’ church
Is your church ‘nice’? Here’s 5 ways to make it ‘nice.’
- Only welcome people who are the same as you – same demographic, age, culture, socio-economic group.
- Only preach the prosperity, health and wealth gospel, ignoring any Scripture about service or persecution.
- Reject anyone with needs, is difficult or too hard.
- Hide your own needs so you won’t be rejected, don’t be real about your struggles.
- Don’t have groups/sermons/resources on recovery and healing as these may attract people with needs
Jesus wasn’t ‘nice’ and He didn’t tell us to make church ’nice’
Jesus ate with outcasts. He touched lepers. He founded His church with disciples of fishermen and society’s rejects like tax collectors, and told them they would be persecuted for following Him. He said following Him would be hard. ‘If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.’ (Luke 9:23). He told the disciples to live a life of love and service of others especially the least.
‘For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
‘Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’
‘And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’ (Matthew 25: 42-45 NLT)
Indispensable body parts
Paul describes the church as a body made of many parts.
‘The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable.’ (1 Corinthians 12: 21-22 NIV)
Paul says the weaker part of the body is indispensable. Indispensable means absolutely necessary, essential, requisite , key, vital, imperative, all-important.1 An indispensable person is – ‘someone that is so good or important that you could not manage without it, him, or her.’ 2 Do you get the picture?
Is that how we view people the world has put labels on? The labels can be health related or due to circumstances. Labels like: disabled, mentally ill, divorced, single parent, sick, culturally and linguistically diverse, unemployed, ex-offender, addict, abused, broken.
Firstly, as a person living with 3 of those labels, I am not those things. I live with chronic illness – I don’t have it as I don’t’ own it, I live with it more like sharing a house with a bad tenant. I am divorced and a single parent, but there is more to me than those labels. I am a person first. I have experienced those circumstances and I have strengths because of it, but they are not who I am. Language is important in how we think and speak about people (and ourselves)!
Secondly, Paul says what the world would label as weaker, or what the church might label as too hard and not nice, are indispensable and ‘the parts we regard as less honourable are those we clothe with the greatest care’ (1 Corinthians 12:23 NLT).
The church – the body of Christ – isn’t whole without people labelled by the world as ‘people with needs’. And we who care, should give them special care.
Putting legs on it
Re-writing the 5 ways to make a ‘nice’ church
- Welcome everyone, especially those who are ‘indispensable’.
- Preach and teach ’Jesus’ call for justice, to love others, for sacrificial service and daily surrender to Him.
- Welcome those with labels from the world. Clothe them with special care.
- Be honest about your struggles. Be real, and seek the support of others for healing and accountability.
- Provide assistance to the least of these. Assistance is more than a handout. It is finding strengths, offering ways for healing such as support groups, having Faith Community Nurses, and other resources available to journey with people. Preach and bring inner struggles into the open so they can be healed.
Messy Church – ‘Messy Church tries to focus on people as they are and form relationships with whole families, no strings attached.’
- http://www.dictionary.com/browse/indispensable?s=t and https://www.google.com.au/search?q=Indispensable&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b-ab&gfe_rd=cr&ei=SB4BWcO6F-_DXpKXheAE
Photo credit Annie Spratt ‘chruch’ and Dmitri Popov ‘mosaic people’ www.unsplash.com