I happened on a message board today, where the particular discussion thread centered on questions people have about their faith. Some of the individuals posted about how they aren’t sure they believe in various aspects of faith, whether it is the person of Jesus or the conflict between science and the Bible. As I read, it struck me that we tend to be a rather closed-minded group in the church. Now, I know what that kind of phrasing brings to mind, that we should be tolerant and open to all religions, etc. I’m NOT advocating that (what I think about those issues is an entirely different topic). But we are closed-minded about the questions we allow people to ask about faith. It’s ok to ask a question about the history of Martin Luther or the multitude of ways one can break the fourth commandment. But we aren’t really open to allowing people to ask “what are the 10 Commandments?” or “Can you help me? I don’t think I really believe that Jesus was the Son of God.” Churches by and large assume that if you walk in the door, you already believe in everything that is taught inside the building. How on earth are we reaching anyone with the Gospel when we work from that assumption?
I am determined to be more open to those kinds of questions, not just open to it but even initiating the discussion. It can be intimidating to admit uncertainty in any environment, especially when the majority of people involved seem like “experts.” Lord, help me to be a servant.
bethany actually said:
I don’t know if I agree with you that all churches make the assumption that everyone who walks through the door is already a believer. You’re the daughter of a pastor, you are married to a pastor, you went to Lutheran schools and have studied theology and are a church worker, and you therefore are usually surrounded by believers, no? Or at the very least, people who are aware that you’re a DCE and pastor’s wife probably let that influence the way they talk to you.
Most churches I’ve been a member of are very aware that most people who walk through the doors are seekers, or are at best imperfectly educated about the Bible and Lutheran teachings, and they look for ways to educate their members. I know that I personally assume that any new person at a church is a blank slate unless I’m told otherwise.
Of course, I have had the experience of BEING one of the new people at a church many, many times. So maybe being on the other end of that experience has given me a different perspective.
What do you think?
Travis Pittock said:
Well…actually, most churches do not realize that people may or may not believe. Steph, you are right on. The majority of our LCMS churches do not have the mindset that people may not know Jesus or His Word. The fact is that in communities that see a lot of transient people, moving in and moving out, these churches are more aware of visitors. But… what about the others? I am glad to hear that there are churches that are “awake.” Praise Jesus for that. There is still work to be done. Every church, every where… let’s get the message of Jesus out!