Friday, September 11, 2015

The Inclusive Church

SOCIAL dynamics are a hard thing to arrange at the best of times, but this is one area a good church excels in: their inclusivity.
Inclusivity is vital for evangelicals. It’s vital for church growth. Gee, it’s even vital for sustaining the status quo. In fact, as a Christian carries it about in their being, the church, they take an inclusive approach with them everywhere they go!
Sadly not enough do. It’s appalling how many churches are cliquey — churches that behave in a way that’s comfortable for them, yet uncomfortable for every newcomer just trying to find a spiritual home. It should be the reverse: it should be the established person in a church taking responsibility for a due welcome.
Yet it’s simply fear, and the complexity of social dynamics that are beyond many people, that is at the root of the problem. No church, rightly stated, has everyone on the same wavelength regarding inclusivity.
That’s why strategies are crucial.
Carrying the Inclusive Church With Us, Everywhere We Go
If we love Jesus, we in turn love his church. We cannot enter a theology that separates Jesus from his church — yes, that’s right, the church is his. Not ours.
Anything that separates Jesus out from ‘the church’ is a heresy. Now we have that cleared up we can go onto the point I need to make: we, you and I, are the church — wherever two or three are gathered. We are a gathering. And wherever we gather, in Christian love, we are bound to spend ourselves out for each other.
The number one obligation for a Christian is to love as Jesus loves.
Given that it’s impossible to meet Jesus’ perfect standard we’re to strive after it. To the point that it makes us uncomfortable. To the point that it stretches us, even to the point of making mistakes (so we have the excuse to say sorry). To the point that we literally spend ourselves of energy in serving the other person — whether they believe or don’t yet believe. And especially is our love to be notable to the person yet to believe!
“A new command I give you: love one another.”
This command in John 13 was the one Jesus gave his church leadership — the Twelve — on the night he was betrayed — as a mode for separating out the wheat of genuine belief from the chaff of unbelief.
To love is to believe. But to fail love is to fall into unbelief.
Love is about inclusive behaviour. Love is a behaviour and love is about inclusion.
Inclusion is really just being a nice person who sees others as important as the self.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.

Photo Credit: Felix Francis.

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