I used to eat a lot of pasta. No, really, A LOT. I also swam competitively and ran competitively, so carbohydrates were my friend. Now, I eat less carbs (thank you, slowing metabolism), but I can’t eat pasta in general thanks to a late-breaking allergy to most pasta.
Something I loved, my mom’s spaghetti, a good trip to Fazzoli’s (hello, Wilmore, KY), or a friendly church spaghetti supper, are all off the list. But the thing about that allergy is, that I didn’t always have it.
I think churches can be like that about change. We start off excited by the prospect of bringing in new people, of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with others, of diversifying from our current makeup into something more “kingdom-oriented” (you know, like, HEAVEN, maybe?)
We are fully invested in the ways that we can be different, in the way that we can bring people who have never met Jesus into a relationship with him, and in thinking outside of the box as we know it.
And then something happens.
We succeed, maybe just a little bit, and somehow, our established way of doing things gets threatened. Maybe a new musician enters the mix, someone who plays at a different style or speed than we’re used to; maybe a different “type” of person starts coming, one from a different denomination, cultural background, race, economic class, or [fill in the blank]. We’re pretty cool, so far. I mean, it’s just one person or one family.
But then maybe that individual or family invites another, or we have a large event that results in several people who seem different… and suddenly, there’s critical mass. We begin to worry about voting, and finances, and who sits where, and what events and groups of people we should focus on. We worry that maybe our way might not survive; we worry that “but that’s the way we’ve always done it” was important to protect us.
And suddenly, that “itch” is more like the side effects that they say really quickly at the end of a quick fix pill… and the church has a full-blown allergic reaction.
And we’re left with two options: are we going to change our “eating patterns” [wheat pasta is good!] or are we going to give up and move on, and lose sight of why we came to Christ’s table in the first place?
Can we recognize that we were once on the outside looking in? Can we see that without Christ, we’re just homeless and hungry? Or will we get caught up in our own quest for food, our own sense of need, and fail to recognize that God has enough for all of us?
Leave your experiences on how the church has been “allergic” and ways you’ve seen a community find the cure to building kingdom-first church. Thanks for reading!