Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Safe Church

I was headed for the door, when my eye caught four words on the front of a TIME magazine for kids: “Are Gray Wolves Safe?”

Well, I thought, that must be a kind of wolf that isn’t as dangerous as others. Maybe they’re safe to be around.

Then I noticed the smaller print: “U.S. officials say gray wolves are no longer in danger of extinction.”

Oh! They’re not talking about our safety around them, but their safety around us.

Maybe you’ve heard the expression “safe church.” What is a safe church?

Is that what you call a church in a rural area where everyone you worship with believes the way you do?
You don’t have to worry about celebration music because they only sing from the hymnal.
You don’t have to worry when you go through the potluck line because they plan vegan fellowship meals.
Is that a safe church?

You can safely take your children to Sabbath School without worrying at all about what might happen there.
You’re safe from the emerging church and spiritual formation and female elders.
You’re safe from the creeping compromise of liberalism.

Is a safe church a place where I am safe from the evils of the world? Or is it a place where others are safe who are not like me?

Is it safe for an attending teenager to park his lifted, spattered mudcrawler in front of the building?
Is it safe for the walk-in who doesn’t know the rule about no hats in the sanctuary?
Is it safe for a newcomer to observe the discussion in the Sabbath School class?
Is it safe for the timid, sensitive guest who just wants a place where she can be accepted, without worrying if she’s doing everything just right?

Is my church safe for them?