*Disclaimer- When I refer to “just friendly” churches, I do not have any particular churches in mind. I am simply sharing my thoughts spurred on by a random conversation.
This morning, I stopped off at a coffee shop on my way to a district meeting. I had some extra time, so I decided to sit down to enjoy my coffee and do some reading. While I was reading, a gentleman about my age started up a conversation. In our small talk, I learned that he was only in the area for a few days. He is in the area helping his parents move.
He said, “My parents are moving to Indianapolis in an effort to find their place in a community. They moved to this area in retirement hoping to connect with others and get actively involved. When they were searching places to retire, this seemed like a friendly area. They’ve been here for just over five years. They continually talk about how people are friendly, but they have yet to make any friends. It’s been difficult for them to find their place and make friends in this tightly knit, well-established community. They are moving in the hopes that in a larger and more transient community, people will be more inviting and welcoming.”
As I drove to my meeting, I found myself wondering if the Church is “just friendly” or a place where people develop lasting friendships and community? Is the Church “just friendly” or are we actively seeking to help others find their place in our community while they develop meaningful relationships with God and others? Is the Church a “just friendly” place that people can exist in for a number of years and still not feel as if they have developed meaningful relationships?
It simply isn’t enough for the Church to be “just friendly”.
This is why the practice of radical hospitality is crucial. The Church should be a place where all people, regardless of age, race, gender, socio-economic status, sexual preference, education level, political affiliation are openly invited, welcomed, accepted, wanted, connected, cared for, supported, encouraged, and have a clear path for involvement. Again, it simply isn’t enough for a church to be “just friendly.”
If a church is “just friendly”, new people who happen to visit the church will have a “nice” experience. However, they will not necessarily feel warmly welcomed, accepted, wanted or find connections with caring, supportive, encouraging friends that desire to involve all people in the life and ministry of the church. People will stick around “just friendly” churches for a while. However, if they don’t get connected to the church community in meaningful ways, they will move on in search of something “more”.
So, tell me about your church…Is it a church that practices radical hospitality and is developing Christian community? Or is it “just friendly”?