This Is A True Story. What Would Your Church Do?
What if a very attractive, distinguished, articulate woman, with a husband and two children, came to your church several times and finally decided to join? As part of the process you asked her to fill out a brief questionnaire about herself. When the questionnaire came back you discovered this about the prospective member:
- She is a recovering cocaine addict
- She is a former prostitute
- She is a victim of domestic abuse
- She almost ended her life when she was five
- She has had five abortions
- She is a convicted felon
- She spent time in prison
What would your membership committee’s response be to a person like that? Now, I don’t know of many churches who make perspective members fill out applications. But what would your members’ response be? Would this person be welcomed into your congregation? Would she be invited to join in Bible studies? What if she wanted to share her testimony with the congregation? What would the blue-hairs say about that?
Here’s some of the reaction I would expect from a lot of church members and staffs today.
- Are you kidding me? We’re going to allow her kind in our church?
- Well, I can accept the addiction and the prison thing, but five abortions?
- Some folks may take to her, but the Bible says don’t mix with that kind (It doesn’t of course. It says the opposite.)
- I think it’s time for us to find another church, Ed.
- What is the church coming to?
- Daddy helped found this church. He would roll over in his grave if he knew we were allowing this.
- Next thing you know we’ll be allowing Muslims and Buddhists in.
- She’ll ruin this church!
Let me tell you something else about her experience with the church. When she got out of prison, she was a committed follower of Jesus Christ. God called her to start a program for women re-entering society after being in prison. She dreamed of a home where these women desiring to change their lives could get training, love and acceptance. As a believer in Jesus she assumed the best place to begin asking for financial support would be the church. Right?
She went to six churches asking for financial support. After the sixth church turned her down, she decided to try non-Christians. She approached corporations and businesses, not asking about spiritual commitment or church affiliation. She raised close to 1.5 million dollars in a matter of months and the donations funded her dream home.
One church she approached had the audacity to tell her they wouldn’t fund her unless every woman graduating from the program would join their church and say the sinners prayer to be saved. Can you believe there are “churches” who would actually put those kind of legalistic requirements on sharing the love of Christ? To me, that is absolutely shameful.
Do you know what else I think it is? I think it is the church acting more like a harlot than the Bride of Christ. I also believe that folks who might be seeking answers to life’s questions would be repelled, not drawn, by church folks who expressed that same condescending, holier-than-thou attitude in public. What if one of the “church folks” with this thinking process asked you to visit their church. Would you be inclined to go?
By the way, the prospective member in this story now dedicates her life to helping others. She established a successful re-entry program for women getting out of prison. The program boasted a zero-percent recidivism rate. She uses the adversity in her life to bring out the best in the lives of others. To learn more about Lisa Kratz Thomas’ life and story visit her website at http:lisakratzthomas.com
So, what is your opinion? Is your church more like a harlot or the Bride of Christ. What would your church do if Lisa walked in off the street and wanted to join your church. Would she be welcome (assuming you knew nothing about her present life as a servant of God and only knew her past)?
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