Growing up, we attended a church that was more famous for the pastel color painted on the outside than for what was taking place on the inside. The color of the church didn’t bother me much, although I can imagine many a visiting family’s conversation that went a little something like this: “Sorry family… We simply must find a church that’s less… pastel.”
While there were certainly some who adored Jesus and His ability to transform lives, none were as passionate as my Youth Group Leader. That building may have been pale on the outside, but it was ablaze with a fire for Jesus in this one man’s heart. And that fire spat embers of Life out onto all that came into contact with him.
I’m sure that Jesus wore pink because, over ping-pong and Orange Crush, I met Him. He scooped up my heart and claimed it right there in the middle of all that pastel.
My youth group leader’s influence has been on a my mind a lot lately. What he tirelessly sought to do was make each one feel included. He brought so many of us tweens to the feet of The Only One who could soothe savaged hearts. I remain forever grateful for his willingness to reach out to those who felt isolated, outcast, and awkward.
Some of you, who have graciously hung around here for a while, know that we went through a painful church search last spring. We found a church to call home, but it hasn’t called out “Home!” convincingly enough, to me, yet.
And, it certainly isn’t calling out home (or anything even remotely comforting) to Sweetboy. He was the reason for the change. It’s more than a little upsetting to hear your quirky boy, who has trouble connecting to others out there in The Everyday, issue the same indictments week after week. “No one likes me there.” “I haven’t met any friends.” “They’re not very nice there.”
If we can’t get it right for the least of these, then I think we may be getting this church thing all wrong.
I’m not sure what to do with how I feel about all of this at the moment. Do I volunteer to be a Sunday School teacher so that I’m “being the change I want to see”? Do I be the “squeaky wheel that gets the grease” and tell the Children’s Pastor my concerns? Do I just keep hitting my knees and praying for God to open eyes and hearts?
Jesus wore pink, back when I was growing up, so I know he has no problem meeting people wherever and however He can. I keep thinking back on that time and trying desperately to remember what the Sunday School teachers said and did that ushered in a sense of belonging and welcome.
I’m coming up empty, because I’m remembering through the lens of a parent whose child is hurting. And that lens? It keeps getting clouded over with tears. Talk to me. Please. I need some community right about now.
Let’s brainstorm how The Church can do this better. How can they meet the needs of the marginalized better? What can we, who believe in redemption for all, do to spur on a better way of loving those who are hard to love?