January 16, 2017

Always a Guest

I recently visited with a couple who are new to the community and they told me of their previous church experience in the metro area. “We went to a church for six months without anyone welcoming us, so we left and found a church where we were greeted warmly.” I’ve heard this type of critique before and I understand her point of view. However, I have to wonder at what point do people of faith remove themselves from the category of foreigner and become engaged and start to assume the duties of host. Paul observed something similar when he visited Athens, “All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas” (Acts 17:21 NIV).

1 comment:

Steve Corey said...


-----I wonder if we might get a little hung up on missing greeters. Of course, it is almost required etiquette for there to be greeters at the church’s main door. I can understand the congregation which might get to thinking, “The greeters are just a formality. Everyone knows a church wants visitors. It is just cultural knowledge that they are welcome.” Or, maybe they figure the congregants will extend those greetings, and just haven’t assessed the reality of the possibility they’re not.
-----But the churches are doing really good in the other stuff. It is rare that the worship service is not begun without a greeting. And there is encouragement and counseling and exhortation sent from the pulpit, confession, prayer, comfort, admonishment, are all sent with kind hearted care from the pulpit. Churches even form deacon’s cupboards for helping the poor a little bit. And they make Sunday Schools and small groups for teaching and learning. And there’s always a preacher and maybe even an elder or two around for personal counseling, comforting, and encouragement.
-----I love electronic Bibles. My knowledge of the Bible really increased with my first one. Before the electronic Bible, concordances gave us lists of possible scriptures we would have to go look up, shuffling through the onion-skin thin pages for hours to find every fifteenth verse that might really apply. With the electronic Bible, we can very quickly sort through the fifteen verses irrelevant to a querry to find the few, relevant gems.
-----So search your electronic Bible for “one another”. Consider all the hits it gives you, somewhere around 150. The Bible is thick with the interacting life of humanity. It is even thicker with the interactive lives of God’s people, calling for loving, being in harmony with, agreeing with, welcoming, greeting, forbearing, forgiving, confessing to, and humility towards one another. But what is strikingly impressive is that the Bible requests of us such concepts as singing to, calling to, caring for, instructing, bidding, bearing burdens of, admonishing, comforting, building up, stirring up, praying for, etc. one another more than it calls the clergy to do those for us. Yet, in today’s Laodicean churches, it is mainly the preacher who acts with the congregation as the audience. The general congregation seems to participate in the things of the new life mostly by proxy of the clergy, at least while they are in church (which is supposed to be kind of a fellowshipping community more than a sitting audience.)
-----Things could certainly be better. But one thing which must never be done when “another” is a preacher, or elder, or some other form of clergy are any of those “admonish” or “instruct” type activities. Those “one another” things seem quite taboo, because even though “the doors are always open” for suggestions, the trash can is more patiently awaiting yours than is the door.
-----But Christ has brought His church through the ages anyhow. Amongst the so called church is that faithful remnant. They are certainly not the faithful-to-the clergy -all signed up on a membership list and everything. But are a remnant being those faithful to hearing and practicing the Word of God. They are the actual church desiring to do righteousness from their own hearts enough that they do some, because their hearts are indeed alive in the Lord rather than just being displayed in a church. The rest are merely blind, self-deceived pretenders feigning attention to God and His Word.

Love you all,
Steve Corey