Water, Water, Everywhere, and Not a Drop to Drink…

water

A church on every corner, and not a one we can go to…

How many people are longing for a church to fit into – or at least where they will feel welcomed one Sunday or one meeting? and How many churches are dying because they don’t have enough people?

I had heard that this was going on “out there,” but I didn’t quite believe it until it happened to me. Having grown up in the church and stepping into ministry at an early age, I always belonged, and if someone said they didn’t feel welcomed or they didn’t fit in, I tended to think it was their problem. Then, feeling God’s call to missions outside the church we were so comfortable in, we left a couple of the churches that we were serving and started moving to different communities, visiting different churches across our state. And suddenly, in a matter of weeks, we had become the outsiders who didn’t fit in.

In so many churches, we were never welcomed, walked up unsure of where to go, and often made a fool of ourselves because we were there for the first time. But every now and then we would enter a church, encounter a smiling face, and feel a little better. The only churches that we really felt comfortable going to a second time were those that had someone who went out of their way to get to know us personally and follow up with us by becoming friends with us.

It was then that I realized that it was my own responsibility to reach out to people – not to wait for them to reach out to me. I suddenly felt like I had the key to fitting in at any church – knowing that I belonged because I was in God’s family! This should have been pretty automatic for someone like me who has known Jesus personally since childhood, but it wasn’t that automatic. It only came after several months of feeling rejected. How much more difficult would it be for someone who doesn’t yet know Jesus but wants to? Or for the one who doesn’t yet know that Jesus forgives? How many chances will they give the church to help them meet the One who wants to know them right where they are?

What if we could do something about this? What if the church could be ready to welcome visitors? What if church as we know it could change so that every single person feels like they belong immediately when they walk through the door? What if the doors of the church – and the hearts of the people inside – were open more than they were closed for the people who need it most?

I believe this is going to happen, and I believe we’re a part of this. One day soon, every person, hurting or not, broken or not, suffering or not, will know that they belong in God’s family. There are no insiders and outsiders at His table, and it’s up to us to get out there and tell people, and to be ready when someone new comes across our path.

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