Monday, 13 September 2010

'Gangs more like Family than Church' says Ex-Gang Member.

“A while back a former gang member came to our church. He was heavily tattooed and rough around the edges, but he was curious to see what church was like. He had a relationship with Jesus and seemed to get fairly involved with the church. After a few months, I found out the guy was no longer coming to the church. When asked why he didn’t come anymore, he gave the following explanation: ‘I had the wrong idea of what church was going to be like. When I joined the church, I thought it was going to be like joining a gang. You see, in the gangs we weren’t just nice to each other once a week – we were family.’ That killed me because I knew that what he expected is what the church is intended to be. It saddened me to think that a gang could paint a better picture of commitment, loyalty, and family than the local church body.” Francis Chan

It is embarrassing to read the above quotation by Mr Chan-and he probably goes to a lively ,progressive hip, happy clappy church! How do 'lesser' churches among us fare.Is your church like a family? I'm not meaning is it like a family for some of the long term members who have been able to form themselves into a clique which might be defined as a small close-knit group of people who do not readily allow others to join them.What I am talking about is: Can it be family for all the strange ones who come to our meetings who love, or want to love Jesus but who may be different,punkish, working class,radical,enthusiastic,outgoing, addicts,tattooed or loud-or all of the above! My guess is that in most cases it's not family for them! Which makes me say three words: Shame on us! Remember that the now famous evangelist Nicky Cruz was once a ragamuffin, and it was for those such as him that Christ came and died!

Do you agree or do you think I am too harsh?


Shane said...

wats wrong wid a christian bein a little rough round the edges lol

Shane said...

when in church it shuddn't matter wat a person looks like on the outside the only thing that shud matter is wat a person is like on the inside and the size of a persons heart bt unfortunitly sumtimes sum christians can only see wats infront... of them and it puts them off talking or even going near a person and they listen to gossip and rumors.

This is sumthing that needs to change everybody deserves and has the right to go to church and whorship no matter who they are where they come from or wat thier history is Jesus wudn't care so y shud we!?!. GOD blessSee More

Andrew Kenny said...

Totally agree Shane. I sometimes think that if John the Baptist were alive today he probably wouldn't find church terribly welcoming- maybe even Jesus himself!!!

Gilly Dobson said...

Mr Chan, Andrew and Shane, I so agree ... we must be more loving, inclusive and supportive ... in church and out, if we put our hearts in gear.. and remember what Christ has taught us

Andrew Kenny said...

Some churches are of course working hard to become more welcoming and inclusive, but that said we must always beware of the dangers of exclusivism, elitism and pride.Tony Campolo once said that most churches are more like an exclusive Country Club than the body of Christ!

Ρωμανός ~ Romanós said...

I don't know any institutional church that isn't essentially a club of a sort. That is almost what "church" means in our day and age and culture.

The real meaning of church which we all know but constantly avoid keeping before our eyes is this: It is family, and if it isn't family in every sense of the word, then it isn't really church either.

Church is where not only am I welcome, but where I make everyone who crosses the threshold welcome.

Church is family. Church is home. When it isn't both of these, it simply isn't really church, just a practice run at best, or a sham at worst.

It may seem I am being unjustifiably harsh and idealistic in what I just said, but I'm not. I belong to a church and accept it for what it is. I know it's a club, but I still go, because I also know that the real Church begins when I open the door of my heart not only to Jesus but to a stranger who might cross my threshold wherever I am, even at church.

People can choose churches like they choose shops or restaurants or nightclubs or cinemas. Right there, we should be able to tell that what they are choosing is not really "church" but something in place of it.

Again, the real Church is universal, all people intrinsically belong to it, they're born into it and, hopefully, they are born again within it. Christ died for all men and this world has thus become the breeding ground for the new Adam.

In the Middle Ages, everyone in Europe was a Christian, unless of course they were Jews. On the down side, that was the age of the state church inaugurated by emperor Constantine.

On the up side, it made the whole of society an ikon for what the Church really is, and the possibility was always there to meet Christ everywhere one went.

Churches were not individual little caves or cages where people could get clapped or trapped as they are now. Churches were literally the doorways to the new World that Christ has gone ahead of us to prepare. Entering a church you entered home and were welcomed into the life of the Holy Triad as a member of a single family. How different it is for us today.

The answer to all criticisms of the institutional church is that we are the Church, buildingless, undogmatic, empathetic, unbounded and unlimited by walls and roofs, uncontained by doors and gates, and free of all restraint in our following of Jesus.

Where we stand, where we walk, where we find ourselves is or can be always a place of peace, welcome, family and home. If we are this, if we choose to be this, then our churches, clubs though they be without our help, can still be portals into the life of the world to come, doorways into the mansions of the Son, who has been building them for us in His Father's House, till this moment from day one.