Group publishing did a study recently to try and determine the friendliest venues around town. Their research was interesting.
As it turns out, churches didn’t fare poorly in this survey of 800 respondents, three-fourths of whom identified themselves as Christians. Yes, more people think restaurants, bars, and pubs beat churches as the best places to meet people, but not by that much: 18 percent versus 16 percent. The hidden assumption here is this: the church should be as friendly as a bar.
So the church did okay, but I could’t help but think, are we measuring the right thing? Should the church be as friendly as a bar? After all, what does a bar offer besides friendliness (drinks obviously)? Doesn’t the church offer people a lot more … and something so much more important?
Certainly, churches should welcome people with open arms, free of judgmentalism and disposed towards grace. But a bar seems like to low of a standard to be compared to.
I would love to hear your thoughts. Just click on the word “comments” and fill in the boxes to leave a comment. There are no right or wrong answers on this one, just ideas and opinions. I would love to hear from you.
Your post makes me think of something rather awkward: Does the Church have something to learn from a bar? In a bar, after everyone has had a few drinks and have lost some of their inhibitions, they are less picky about other people–how they look, what they wear, their social status, etc. People become more friendly with everyone. Should the Church be more like this? I think, in part, yes. In your fourth paragraph you used the word “should” as in “should welcome people…” Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe you wrote “should” because this is not always (in fact, often not) the case. So how can we get rid of the word “should?” Surely we do not need to inject friendliness through an artificial means (alcohol)? No, we have a better way. We need to look at the example of our leader, Jesus. He was not picky when he met and spent time with people. In fact, he was known and criticized for associating with “sinners.” We need to follow the example of Jesus and welcome everyone. Yes, the Church should have high expectations, but do we push these expectations on newcomers? Did Jesus turn away sinners? Newcomers will hear the message and choose what path they want to follow. Our job is to welcome everyone as Jesus did. We should have a Church full of sinners–after all, I am one of them.