This last week we attended our own church and our pastor spoke about how and what we have done as a church in 2008. He talked about many things but ended with a challenged. He pointed out that our congregation is a Pastor/Staff Centered Church. We tend to leave all the serving, teaching, discipleship, and work up to the "trained professionals." We come and expect to be taught, not seeking to teach. We come expecting others to reach out to us, pursue us and love us, never seeking to do that to others. We come selfishly.
The prior week we visited a church plant in 5 Points Denver. I was really apprehensive about visiting, not sure what I would find. We parked on the street and shuffled up the side walk and were greeted with a hearty hand shake. We walked in and were greeted by an older white woman who asked about our children. Then we came to the name tag table where a young African man first shook my hand then, to my surprise, pulled me into a side hug. I wasn't too sure about things by this point, but went with it. He asked me my name and wrote "Mercy" on my name tag, I guess there was a bit of a language barrier. Then we went into the sanctuary and saw Galatians 3:28 in 2 foot letters across the front of the room, "For you are all one in Christ Jesus." It was then that I got to thinking that I wasn't hugging an african american man, but my brother in Christ. When he wrote my name as "Mercy" it was as if God was telling me what attitude I should be made up of. It was amazing to see this fledging church interact and come to serve, pray and be in each others lives and the community around them. The Word was taught with out reserve and with out gimic. It was refreshing in every way.
On our drive home (an 8 hour trip) a few days later I got to thinking about what I had seen and experienced and was comparing it to our church at home. I was thinking how I wished the attenders at our church were more friendly, willing to hug, willing to pray with conviction, willing to serve others, willing to worship with abandon. Then it hit me, I am my church. I am not willing to be more friendly, to hug, to pray, to serve to worship openly, so why I am expecting others to do that for me? Jeff, our pastor was right, we center our church on him, not God, not what we can do to worship God more deeply and serve others more fully.
So...I think I need to start a "hugging commitee" at First B of Durango. That, is, if people don't mind being hugged by I white girl.