I’m a growing number of people who have been raised in church, but have stopped going, dropped out along the way: could’ve been college, could’ve been marriage, or maybe just moving to a new place.
But all of the sudden, something’s happened and I feel like I need to go back to church, but where? There are so many to choose from. Which are weird? Which are hostile? Which is just the right one for me?
I’ve chosen yours tomorrow. Here I come. Are you ready for me and do you understand how nervous I am? Here are 19 things you need to know about me:
- Right out of the gates, know that I feel guilty for having been away so long. I know I should go to church. I know all the right reasons. I actually have some fond memories. I’ve had a conversion experience. So, please lay off of the guilt. I have enough already.
- I have a memory of church: it’s one I was raised in, or the one I had the best experience in, or maybe the one I converted in. I’m going to measure yours according to that.
- I start scanning the parking lot. How many cars? Are there enough? Is this going to be a big enough place where I can get lost, at least initially?
- It’s ok to greet me, but don’t ask me for too much information because I don’t want to reveal that I’ve been back-slidden for so long.
- I‘m going to sit close to the back, close to the door, if that’s ok with you. It will help me be comfortable.
- I’m going to be listening for music I can relate to; not just fast, not just rock, but words. I remember things like Power in the Blood, Standing on the Promises, What a Friend We Have. So if you can jazz those up for me, it’s going to be a big plus.
- I dread long announcements. I’m not unlike anyone else. Just give me the short details and facts.
- In your use of the Bible, either print it out for me or stay in one place. I’m embarrassed that I don’t know how to find books like Joel or Amos, and I’m not even sure how many books of John there are.
- I do have a heart language for God, so please keep it simple and give me hope and talk alot about Jesus.
- Make sure your website is more than just a brochure. I need to know how to get connected. Actually I need some refresher courses in Christianity 101. So are there some? Can I do them online? Can I do them at my convenience?
- If there is any way we can all wear nametags, not just me, that would be very helpful.
- If people can call me by name, it will make me feel like this is home.
- Make sure you tell me what I’m supposed to do now that I am a Christian, now that I’m back. I think one of the reasons I drifted way is that all church became was just coming and going, coming and going, and I got bored.
- Don’t pressure me into membership. Let me be a part of the community before I am pressured into those kinds of commitments.
- Please put yourself in my shoes. I ought to know more and I don’t. I ought to have experienced more, but I haven’t. I believe a certain set of things that I’ve never been able to work them out into real life. Make it practical. Even though I am a Christian, I’ve been gone a long time.
- Be patient with me. I’m not going to join quickly and I’ll gladly volunteer before I join. As a matter of fact, I don’t think I’ll ever join because church membership really hasn’t done anything for me in the past. I think I’m still a member of my old home church?
- If I can be a part without being an official member, that would be great.
- Bottom line: give me hope, the hope that comes from the gospel’s good news about God’s lavish grace. Help me to understand it. It’s my shallow understanding after my conversion that’s kept me a child in my faith. This time around, help me go deeper, but make it simple. I get confused easily.
- Speak with passion and empathy. Make me believe you face some of the same things I do.