Church has been on my mind and heart in recent years. As I’ve grown into my role as a wife and mother, I’ve realized that church life and how it should be isn’t as cut and dried as I thought it was. I love my church, and seek the best for her as the Bride of Christ. Writing about issues is one of the the best ways for me to clarify my own beliefs, and forces me to study and pray through the Scriptures in ways I wouldn’t normally.
Several ideas and issues have stirred my conscience recently. I have felt God moving me to use the writing gift He gave me to “admonish and build up(I Th. 5:11)” my brothers and sisters in Christ. Whatever I write, I strive to write with love and humility and without judgement or condemnation. For the next few months, I hope to publish a blog each week dealing with an issue that is close to my heart.
I’ll start with this question: Is your church safe?
A statement has been floating around our church lately.
“The church should be a safe place for our children.”
While I agree, this idea raises two questions:
- How are we making the church safe?
The Bible is clear that we must take care when creating rules. When Jesus spoke against the Pharisees’ way of life, He nearly always mentioned their extra rules they had placed on the people(Matt 9:10-13; 12:1-13; 15:1-11; etc.). This doesn’t mean that rules are wrong, indeed they are necessary in the home when raising children!
However, if we are making the church safe by severely limiting our children’s interaction with those outside of it, or teaching them that only our way of practicing Biblical principles is correct, we, like Pharisees, are in danger of trusting our rules to keep them safe, rather than Jesus. If we don’t trust Jesus with our children, why do we follow Him at all?
- If our church is safe for our children, is it safe for anyone else?
Our first calling as a church is to bring glory to God. Within that, we are to foster a deep, sacrificial love for those stumbling in darkness around us. Not so long ago, we were one of them. Under that, we’re called to care for our families.
Our fleshly nature sees putting family first as natural. We love them the most, so if we chose our own way, we would sacrifice the world in order to save our children. We would make sure our church was very safe for our families, possibly at the expense of making it unsafe for other desperate people.
This surely makes God weep, for He did the opposite. He sent His only Son to a very unsafe world, allowed Him to be tempted to the extreme, then killed by the ones He came to save.
When we make our church safe for us and our children first, we have no way to welcome the poor and needy around us. They may visit a few times, but how could they hope to find a home among us? Each denomination has its own traditions, but we as conservative Amish Mennonites have grown up within this rigid structure of plain, hand sewn dresses, head coverings, altered suit coats, and many other expectations. Unlike Jesus, who dressed as a peasant because He was one, we make anyone else stand out when they step inside our church. And we stand out whenever we go anywhere else.
Do you agree or disagree? I would love to hear your thoughts.