Monday, June 12, 2006


Currently, I'm reading the book No Perfect People Allowed by John Burke, a book that examines how we, as Christian leaders, can create a "come as you are" culture for the post modern, post Christian generations. He contends that one of the barriers to the Christian church reaching those outside its walls is the lack of tolerance seen through its members.

Burke contends that many of the people who aren't interested in church see the institution of church as a gathering of intolerant, judgmental, and hypocritical people instead of the loving, caring, accepting gathering of people it's proclaimed to be.

Over the past several days I have unfortunately witnessed what I think these nay sayers of church may be talking about... specifically, intolerance. At our annual conference this past week, the assembly voted to uphold Decision 1032 of the judicial council which supported a decision of a Virginia pastor who refused membership to a man who is gay. I was saddened by the decision and by the round of applause that followed the result of the votes. It was a chance for us to show tolerance of those who are marginalized... and instead we showed intolerance.

Another witness to intolerance happened today... actually in two different situations. Someone came to the church door asking for help for himself and his pregnant wife who were not allowed to access help at our City Mission, which proclaims itself a faith-based organization. Allegedly she had cussed and was told she and he were no longer welcome. They just needed some help and shelter especially for her since she was probably about 7 months along (I recognize a fellow "sufferer" when I see one) and was very concerned about her baby. Her husband was given some work to do to earn some money to help them out.

On the heels of their leaving, another man came by the church seeking help. He'd been turned away from the same place because he didn't have the "appropriate" dress...he was wearing a tank top. He was looking for some food and a way to a nearby town. We gave him a shirt, some sandwiches and showed him where he could go to get a good start on his way to the other town.

What do our actions or our inactions say about the faith we are called to live? What do they say to those who are looking for a place to belong? A place where they can find love? A place where they really should see the living Christ?

This week I am speaking at our contemporary service where we are talking about the gifts of the spirit... this week is faithfulness. How can we be true and faithful disciples of Jesus Christ? What is the most authentic way to share of our faith? And how can each of us display to those who are watching who Jesus really is and how he loves each and every one of us?