b-blog

Got Barriers?

“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these’” Matt. 19:14.

We agree with those words. We go out of our way to make church an inviting and welcoming place, with smiling greeters and warm décor. But are there barriers we may not even be aware of?

Culture

Each church has its own culture—how you dress, whether or not you applaud after music, whether you text during service, what you do with crying babies. These unwritten rules may not be known by visitors—but can earn withering looks when broken.

Language

We love our church language. We “fellowship” in the “sanctuary,” “worship” to the music, do our “quiet times” and “devotions,” and “activate the prayer chain.” We also talk about glory, righteousness, salvation, grace, and sin—concepts that might be foreign to the newcomer.

Cliques

One of the joys of the church family is the close relationships. After a long week, it’s refreshing to chat with people who love you. We sit with our friends, chat with our friends, and go out with our friends. But do we welcome visitors—or leave that to the ushers?

Jesus threw the moneychangers out of the temple for disrespecting God’s house and for impeding worship. We don’t want to be guilty of the same sin.

Church culture will remain—but let’s show grace to the rule-breakers. Church language should be embraced for the wealth of meaning—but let’s be careful to define our terms. Church family should be nurtured—but let’s open our eyes, watch for those outside our circle, and make an effort to include them.

What can you do to break down the barriers?

2 Responses to “Got Barriers?”

  1. Xochi E. Dixon

    This message is close to my heart, sister. Thanks for sharing.

    I ask God to give me His eyes and His heart, helping me see opportunities to be His hands and feet. I pray He uses me to reach out, rather than hiding in a bubble (aka my comfort zone).

    The thing that helps me most is remembering what it feels like when I’m the “new person” in any given situation.

    It’s heartbreaking when we can say we are members of a church but don’t really have deep relationships with anyone in said church. But, it’s even more heartbreaking when someone feels invisible in God’s house.

    Lord, help us remember that Your church extends outside the walls of the buildings where we meet on Sunday mornings. Remind us that You lead people to seek You, but we are who they see when they show up. Empty us of self so we can reflect Your love.

    Give us Your eyes to see those who may feel invisible, unwelcome or inadequate. Help us remain humble, knowing we are all sinners covered by Your love, rescued by Your grace and called to love as You love us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

  2. Sarah Sundin

    Xochi – sorry it took me so long to reply! I haven’t had internet for a week due to vacation. Thank you so much for your beautifully worded thoughts. I also find it helpful to remember how it felt to be the newcomer.