I was walking back home earlier today after an afternoon of paper writing at the neighborhood Starbucks and passed by this church. When I saw their sign, I knew I had to take a picture. Judging by the photograph above, it may not look out of the ordinary, but if you look closer to the inscription just underneath the name of the church, you'll find the words 'Visitors Welcome'. But thanks to the landscaping decisions, that has been all but blocked from sight.
***Before I continue, I must include this very important disclaimer that I am not insinuating, implying or stating any stance on denominational superiority or inferiority. In fact, the name on this sign could very well be any of ours, so if anyone belongs to, or knows someone who belongs to this particular church or denomination, let it be known that I am not taking cheap shots at you, this church, or this particular denomination.***
I feel that this sign is quite representative of so many churches all across this continent, regardless of denominational standings, or the lack there of. So many times churches say that visitors are welcome and you can "come as you are", but more often than not it's one big bait and switch routine where a pipe dream is dangled in front of unassuming people to lure them in, and when they least expect it, the come as you are mantra is replaced with 'assimilation time, bitch'.
The landscape of churches today deeply saddens me. We say one thing, but to another. Just because the word 'missional' or 'emergent' in our lexicon, doesn't mean that we're actually living up to what those words really mean. Although I'm excited that the idea of a missional church is beginning to catch on, I'm also saddened because in the amount of time for 'missional' to become the "in thing" for churches to do, it's been bastardized, processed, packaged, and sold on every bookshelf in our Christian bookstores. It's become WAY too easy for churches to say all the right things in public, use all the buzz words in our blogs, but yet still be more irrelevant to the pursuit of Kingdom values than screen doors on submarines.
Sorry if this post sounds really angry and frustrated, but the reality is that I'm both angry and frustrated, both with myself and with the current landscape that I see. But amidst all this intense and perhaps negative emotions that flutter through my brain and heart, there's this calming sense of peace in the reality that hope abounds, grace liberates, and God redeems. I may wrestle with all this, but the triune God of Father, Son and Holy Spirit understands, loves and never gives up on the humanity found on this side of heaven.