We had an interesting thing happen yesterday. We had a yard sale (for the second week in a row) to get rid of "stuff". At one point we were in the midst of a family argument about what we were going to sell and what we were NOT going to sell. (It's hard to see family things sell that we always had but recently never used. Anyway...) As we were arguing amongst ourselves two different people came up and quickly left. There was no way they were going to stay with an argument going on!
Later on, however, when emotions had calmed and everyone was getting along, another few people came up. They didn't really buy much. In fact, we gave them a few things. They thanked us and left but a few minutes later came back. Their reason for coming back? They noticed by some things written on shirts and other places, as well as the kindness they saw and experienced, that our family was different. They asked if we were Christians to which my husband responded. Turns out they are too. They had been looking for a church home and not found one yet. Jim sadly told them our story and what happened to our church. They were really saddened and wanted to stay in touch so we exchanged phone numbers. Hopefully we will get together again with them.
So, the lesson I learned from this....
Churches are like families. When people visit a church and see people NOT getting along, when they see arguments and fighting and sense tension they will turn and go. The opposite is also true. When visitors come to a church and find that the people are kind to each other, that they love each other and those who visit, when they see that the things written on walls are matched by how the people act towards each other and them, they will come back and ask what's different about them.
We have a friend who spends a fair amount of time at our house. The reason? He feels loved and welcomed and accepted here (and the feeling is mutual) rather than being at his own home where there is tension and "too much drama". How we treat each other says a lot to those around us.
It breaks my heart that there are people who have walked away from the church because of what they see in the people. At this point, I'm almost one of those. Thankfully there are still some Christians who show grace and kindness and love and understanding. It's thanks to those people that I will "go back" to church.