An Open Letter…
This is an open letter to everyone who has stopped being a part of the Church. Whether your exit was public and loud, or a quiet and undetected escape. Whether you ran as far and fast as you could, or you slowly walked away, or maybe someone by word or deed pushed you out… this letter is to you. We love you, we need you and we want you to come home.
I am not trying, in anyway, to be the voice of God to you. But, I am trying desperately to be “a” voice for the Church… the body of broken, bruised, sinful and mistake ridden people who really only have one thing in common… Jesus forgave us. We’re asking that you would do the same… would you consider forgiving us for any hurt thats been done, or mistake that was made and attempt to reconnect with fellow strugglers?
I know we all come from different backgrounds, and our stories are as unique as our fingerprints, but please let me speak for “THE” Church for a moment… whatever happened that caused our separation… it’s not worth it and we need to heal.
If you’ve been hurt or offended by someone in the Church, I am sorry. The Church should be a place of love and support, but sometimes we let the letter of the law get in the way of the spirit of the law. We don’t act as loving as we should, and all I can ask is that you forgive us as Christ forgave you. I can promise you this, as long as there are breathing human beings in the Church, there will be problems, but don’t let that rob you of the joy of Christian community. Please forgive and come home.
If you’ve been overlooked or neglected by your Church. Please forgive us. Everyone is important, everyone matters and everyone needs a place at the table. Imperfect people are perfectly good at dropping the ball. I promise you that no one ever wanted you to feel left out, or on the outside. Sometimes we need you to let us know if you’re hurting, lonely, or just feeling disconnected. I know it’s hard to let others know when you’re feeling that way, but believe it or not there are people in Church who would love to meet you right where you are if they just knew. So, if you have “slipped through the cracks”… I am so sorry. No one ever wanted you to feel anything other than valued, included and important. Please, create an opportunity for a second chance and come home.
If you left the Church because you were bored… well, that’s probably legitimate… I believe it’s a sin to take the most exciting story in the world that has the opportunity to bring life into the world, and bore people to death with it. But, if boredom is what derailed you then let me set a couple of questions in front of you: First, isn’t truth still truth, even if it’s boring? You can’t give up on the Message, just because the messengers are an all natural cure for insomnia. Second, if the Church is boring, please take that as your excuse to fix it! Get in the children’s program and make learning the Word fun for the next generation, find a spot in the leadership to positively make some changes from within, ask some of the old school gatekeepers, “What do we have to do to reach your grandchildren?’ and just see that rock and a hard place start to slide like tectonic plates and then feel the earthquake as Church becomes… dare we say it… fun! If you walked away because Church was just bad, we need you to make it better, please come home.
If your life changed drastically, and the Church just didn’t seem to care, I want you to know, the truth is we’re desperate to meet you where you are. A divorce can make you feel like you’ve lost everything, but don’t believe the lie! God says, “Never will I leave, never will I forsake you.” Neither should your Church. Moving to a new city often makes you feel completely unstable, and finding a Church like your old one is almost impossible. Well, that’s actually true, but there’s good news… the people are different, the music’s not even close, and you really loved your old preacher, but despite all that… Jesus is still the same! Sometimes we feel like we’ve just outgrown the Church… we went when we were kids, or we used to be in the youth group, or I liked my old Sunday School class. So, you just kind of drifted away and leaving Church… “just happened”… Those were good days, but they aren’t gone… they just prepared you for what’s next. You have grown, but you haven’t outgrown God. Whatever has changed, remember He is the same yesterday, today and forever… we love you, please come home.
Maybe you left Church because you have struggled with your faith. Doubts, questions and fears have just made it easier to move on, and faith to you is now just a “personal” issue, if it’s anything at all. C’mon, let’s get real for a moment. The reason it’s called faith, is because it can’t be proved. Part of the reality of faith is the struggle… I mean, what did God name His people: Israel, right? You know what that word means don’t you…? Israel means “wrestles with God.” Questions, doubts and the struggle should be embraced in the Church… they are what make us strong enough to survive. In fact, you might have a specific theological issue. Something that you heard taught you don’t like, a teaching that runs counter to culture that’s difficult to embrace, or a legitimate question that you can’t seem to get an answer to… please, stay in the game and wrestle with God and his people until you find peace. Walking away will never answer the question. Imagine that your faith is a boat on the water that’s sinking… diving overboard is not going to fix anything. The only thing that makes sense is to stay in the boat and bail water. So, if you and the Church aren’t on speaking terms anymore because of “the struggle”… please, climb back up in the boat and start bailing water. We need you, come home.
Maybe your out of the Church because “You’ve had it up to here.” Organized religion, hypocrits, the hyper-religious, or the inward-focused, naval gazing culture of the modern Church just turn you off. Well, here we go…
- the only thing worse than organized religion is disorganized religion
- hypocrits go to WalMart, but we’ve learned to deal with them
- sure there are hyper-religious people in the Church, and when you leave they win… we can’t have that now can we
- and it’s true that the Church has gotten a reputation for big buildings, big personalities and big budgets… so, why don’t you jump into Church and help start a grass roots movement where we make Jesus the Rock Star of the Church and remember that the Church isn’t a building, or an organization… it’s the people… we are the Church, and we need you… please come home
Obviously, I can’t speak to every hurt and every concern felt by everyone, but I can say this: We love you… we want you… we need you… please consider forgiving, trying again, just letting it go and coming home.
We’re the Church, and we’re not the same without you.