I can remember as an infant my parents bringing me to church in a rustic suburb of Chicago and taking me to the nursery. (It’s amazing how I can remember repressed memories from childhood but not what I had for dinner last night). There were uninviting, cold walls made of prison-like cinder blocks painted a nasty sea green. (The color in the 64 Crayola box that no one uses, kinda looks like a shamrock shake from McDonald’s) I can still remember what became known to me as “The smell of Church”…
This experience conditioned me to associate the cold, not-well lit, sea green walls with God. And if I could cry hard, loud, and long enough my mother would come and get me and settle me by bringing me into the stain-glassed sanctuary with rotting wood where the pastor pointed, yelled, and screamed even louder than I could. I found myself in a situation that wasn’t much better than where I was… however I was with someone who I knew loved and cared about me.
Ever since I can remember I’ve always hated church and anything that was related to religion. It had always been a separate entity from anything that was real life to me. I mean where did my not so secret fantasy of becoming a Ghostbuster fit into the world of religion?
This makes me think how many people are there out there think the very same thing? Not that adults had fantasies of becoming Ghostbusters but, to how many other people was church just a cold, musty, sea-green cinderblock wall?
Now assuming the Church has a message to deliver that’s worth understanding and even applying how can these people be reached? Is it to shut down all churches who don’t have the finances to have a discovery zone as their children’s ministry? Or only to have churches with volumes beyond 5,000 members?, or that a rock concert for Sunday morning worship should be mandatory?
I mean if the church is representing God in every way shouldn’t it be the best in every way? How can God become more to people than just a lucky rabbit’s foot or a carried-on family tradition motivated out of guilt? How can these people be reached?
The same way I was.
Someone who I know loved me and cared about me rescued me away from the cold cinderblocks when I cried hard, loud, and long enough.
Relationships are everything.
Everything else is secondary.
If we listen close enough… we can hear people in the world who have been crying hard… loud… for a very long time.
1 john 3.11