Who Locked the Gates?

Under the category of "sure wish I would have said that" comes an Alban Institute book by church planters Gary and Kim Shockley called Imagining Church: Seeing Hope in a World of Change.

Gary has a sign on his office door which says, "The church is the only organization that exists for its nonmembers."  He asks some good questions related to what types of barriers we erect in our parishes that exclude (albeit unconsciously) the "unaffiliated."  He said, "It has got to be about as uncomfortable for many of them to come and feel connected to what we are doing as it would be for us churched folk to show up at a Hindu shrine and be expected to jump right into the ritual."

When I do evangelism consulting in parishes, I often ask a group of people to walk through the entire experience of coming to their church as though they are unchurched persons who know absolutely nothing about the place or much about the Episcopal Churchfrom where to park and enter to what is a "narthex" or "Nicene Creed."  The experience is quite eye-opening.  We tend to make so many assumptions in church on Sunday mornings, from "Sureeverybody knows we're not supposed to park there and that we keep the front door locked." to "Yeah, everybody knows what a 'Eucharist' is."  Gary tells the story about visiting a church and hearing an almost hour-long sermon on the "frequency and complexity of covenants throughout the Bible."  Interesting to a lot of us, yes.  But, responsive to those who lack basic Bible literacy and may be newcomers to the church?  Nope.  A big-time barrier.


Anyway, check out this link to Gary's article "Who Locked the Gates?" http://www.alban.org/conversation.aspx?id=7048

So, how can we meet people where they are in their journey and then (and only then!) help them grow along with the rest of us who, too, are "works in progress."  That is the question du jour, my friends!  Until next time,  Kathy

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