There once was a couple who visited a Large mega-church. They had heard about how inviting and open. It was a place where people seeking to learn more about God could come and explore his claims and study his teachings, a place where all were welcome and people were accepting of new people.
The church offered a number of services over the weekend. Several of the services were very full and new faces not unusual. But the early service was less well attended and our Goldilocks couple decided to visit this service.
Getting there early the new couple walked into a nearly empty auditorium that seated thousands and walked down one of the aisles and sat down. A few moments later another couple came in and sat down behind them. Greetings were exchanged and the Goldilocks were informed that they were sitting in this couple’s seats. Even though the auditorium was empty the wife was upset over someone sitting in their’ seats. Other couples came in and were upset that the Goldilocks were messing things up.
So the next week even though the Goldilocks didn’t feel very welcome they came back and chose to sit in the row in front of their previous week’s seats only to be informed that they were again sitting in someone’s seat. The third week they chose another row only to experience the very same thing.
On the fourth week the Goldilocks chose to sit on the other side of the auditorium. They got there early and sat down to enjoy a cup of coffee. Again they were one of the first in the auditorium and watched as one of the three bears came charging down the aisle to get “their seat” and watched as the first of the bears saved seats for the other two bear couples in the other rows. Then they stood guard over the saved seats until their friends got there. The Goldilocks were amused and a little sad at the bears. They didn’t feel very welcomed at all. And they their experience didn’t agree with what they heard from the platform.
The next week the Goldilocks didn’t go back to church and never ever fully connected with God.
The story you just read was not a fairy tale. It actually happened to my wife and I. The only part that was fiction was that we are still attending the Large church as we wait on the Lord to open a new ministry. We understand that what is said from the pulpit is hard to live out in the pews (or auditorium seats).
But what about visitors who are seeking to connect to God or reconnect with God? Are they being greeted with open arms or are they hearing bears complain about people being in their seats. Are we the light of the world or are we bears hibernating this winter and grumpy when people bother us by attending our church and sitting in our chairs?
I’m Pastor Val and this seat is just right!