Early in that season of beginnings, we met a mixed racial couple and fell in love with them and them with us. We knew we were simply too “white” to minister in authenticity to a racially diverse community, and they were really interested in reaching people for Christ.  They had gifts to add to our own, and were relational people.  I’ll never forget the day one denominational leader told me that we should not allow people like that in our community, and that they had shut down other church plants because they included those “Charismatics.”  I was very arrogant (still am) and green (still am), so I said something like, “well you better shut us down then, but I’m not going to start off by telling the community that the only people that can join us are those just like us.”  After all, just consider the diversity in the early disciples Jesus selected that eventually changed the whole freaking world!  Again, I know why I was told that in the early days:  Unity is difficult enough to maintain without adding different styles, doctrinal flavors and ethnicities to the mix!  We now have scars from my idealism. 
However, I knew that we could not become exclusionists, denying entrance to people who loved God and were “called according to His purpose” but had a different understanding on some important but minor issues in Scripture.  I’ve had all of that I will ever need.  At the time, we were just ignorant enough to believe that if that mixed-race couple loved Jesus we could get along and live in community – that is, if we all walk in the Spirit.  We could learn from them, and they from us.  We still don’t agree on everything, but we still love each other and are in relationship because of Jesus Christ. Again, I’m not against those denominational leaders.  In fact, we could not have succeeded without their counsel, but this bears repeating: I don’t think many of the metaphors we tend to use for the Church of Jesus Christ are always correct. 
My whole point in this discussion is not to criticize anyone person or denomination or association of Churches. It’s simply to record my experience, my mistakes, and my idealism – and to say that the Church should be presenting a unified front to the world however we need to get that done.  A show of love and unity because Jesus saved all of us from Hell and united all of us with His loving Father would be a good place to start.  If we’re going to be against anything we should be against how Satan’s efforts to keep people separated from God for all eternity.  If we don’t many of those people, may miss Jesus because of our Big Mac talk and our French fry mentality.
(To Be Continued …)
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Confessions of a Bad Evangelical Pt 4