"Sometimes you wanna go...... Where everybody knows your name, and they're always glad you came. You wanna be where you can see, our troubles are all the same You wanna be where everybody knows Your name."
One of the saddest realities in America to day is this....
When life is tough, messy and seems impossible we find it easier to go sit in a bar and share our struggles. And when life is great and we seem to have it all together, we go to church and avoid our struggles!
It is simply true, too often, that people find rest, love, acceptance, care and compassion from the world more often than the church. In a setting like a bar, the world seems to understand that we are all alike and all on the same level as human beings. Judgement rarely appears. There is virtually no measuring up of sins and issues. Such places become an oasis, and escape, where we can vent our problems, share our secrets and confess our issues. And, the best part, we are not rejected, kicked out or made ashamed.
Unfortunately, in too many churches, the opposite is true. The church heralds a call for the broken, messy and hurting. They fly a banner that says "all are welcome no matter your issues". But, in reality, as soon as your foot enters the threshold, that message is missing. Once the broken, messy and hurting step inside, there is a call to leave your issues at the door. There is an expectation of perfection, immediate transformation and an instantaneous change. In all honesty, most churches simply don't have room, and won't make room, for brokeness on the inside.
And so the world has found it's hope, love and solace in other places. The church has walked from the declaration of Jesus in Matthew 9:12-13 “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: ‘I’m after mercy, not religion.’ I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders.”
My heart and desire is to help churches, leaders and followers of Jesus create places where we can fulfill what Jesus began. We can open our doors and see the words of James 5:16 become true.... "Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed."
After all, if people can gather around a bar and confess, and find love, care, hope and acceptance.... Why can't that happen in the church? Better yet, why isn't it happening every week in our churches?