“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?
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.
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.
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?