“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
Alone in a Crowd, by Gini Kittle

A number of years ago Randy and I went to China to visit our daughter Anna who was living there for a year while teaching English.  It was a great cultural experience and we had the opportunity to see many wonderful things (like the Great Wall, the Terracotta Warriors, etc.), but one of our excursions made me feel quite uncomfortable.  It was our visit to Tiananmen Square.  In this vast, open area, we were surrounded by thousands of Chinese people all speaking a different language — a language I didn’t know or understand.  I was standing there in one of the largest crowds I’ve ever been in and yet I felt foreign … isolated … and alone.

I wonder if we ever make those who visit our churches feel the same way.  Are they able to understand what we’re saying, or do we make them feel like they’re on the outside by speaking in religious catch phrases.  You might be thinking, “What?”  Let me give you a couple examples from the past.  I remember a church that called their weekly service their “believers’ meeting.”  While that name might have been well-intentioned, it seems to imply “we don’t want any unbelievers trying to sneak in here.”  Another church billed their small groups as “Kinship Fellowship Groups.” which sounds like you need to be related to someone to attend. 

Too many times the phrases a church uses and the names they give to things complicate what they are saying.  This can make others feel like unwelcomed outsiders.  So let us choose to do our best at making every visitor feel like an invited guest and not a foreigner by dropping all the pious and “cute-but-complicated” jargon.  We don’t want to put any stumbling blocks between them and becoming part of the family of faith.

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