Everyone knows that in our world today you have to read the fine print. Terms and conditions may apply. Offer not available in all locations. By saying “yes” you agree to our terms of service. No representation has been that the quality of service advertised is better than the quality of service available at our competitors, except it has.
We accept these things just so we can get on with out life. Of course occasionally we get the hoax memes about Facebook selling our kids pictures to Russian pornographers unless we post a disclaimer because we don’t understand the way the system works, but other than that most of us do not think about it when it comes to clicking “accept” on the internet.
This is not always true in other aspects of life.
People have long known, or believed, that sometimes saying “yes” to something has a lot of unstated consequences.
Things like going to church.
For all the assurances of acceptance and love that churches make if someone will only come, we hide our terms and conditions in such fine print that sometimes even we cannot see them. We have piled a lot culture on top of our Christianity and there is a sometimes-but-not-always unstated condition that anyone who comes must buy into it with us.
This keeps people from coming to church. It keeps people from knowing Christ.
How do we change that? First, we stop acting like its all a package deal. Our call is to make people like Christ, not like us. This
might mean(s) taking a long and hard look at our own lives and how often we yoke opinions about politics and culture to our Faith. We need to stop acting like our opinions are part of the Gospel.
Second, we promote the baseline. What, when all else is removed, is the foundation?
What is necessary for coming to church? Do I have to get my life straight? Do I have to dress right? Do I have to talk a certain way?
No. There is only one statement that has to be true to come to church: “I am interested in knowing what this is all about.”
What is necessary for becoming a Christian? Do I have to believe certain things? Do I have to accept an agenda? Do I have to give things up? Do I have to hate certain things? Do I have to understand theology?
No. There is only one statement that has to be true for you to become a Christian: “I believe I need Jesus.”
People will start to make arguments about theology or behavior that go beyond that. All of that is fine so long as we keep it after the needing Jesus stuff. It can be figured out later. Or at least struggled with for the rest of our lives. We do not get right to come to Jesus, we come to Jesus to get right.
So show up however you want to church. If I could I would preach in what I am wearing now: barefoot, shorts, and a Godzilla T-shirt. Let your kids run around. Don’t listen when people make a political statement with one breath and a theological statement with the next, or call them on it if they do. Just come and ask your questions and look for answers.
Ignore the junk that gets added on top.
“I am interested in knowing what this is all about.”
“I believe I need Jesus.”
That is the baseline. That is all you need.