Come Just as You Are // M-Note 4.30.2021

Every month, The Gathering hosts NEXT. NEXT is an evening designed to help new people connect to our church and for existing people to take a new step in their faith. It also gives me a chance to share the story of The Gathering, how it started, and most importantly why. I know this story better than anyone, and yet hearing the origin story month after month still inspires me. I need to be reminded all the time why we exist, and at a foundational level, what we are doing.
This past week at NEXT, I told that story, one that I have told hundreds of times. I once again explained that at the core of our purpose is a very simple hope – to welcome people as they are and invite them to grow in Christ. Welcoming people as they are sounds easy, but churches have a lot of trouble doing it. When skeptical people come, or folks with messy lives walk through the doors, people look askance. If you don’t fit the mold of what they believe a Christian looks like, you feel it. LGBTQ people know all too well what it is like to be told you are welcome only to have that welcome rescinded. Many churches may challenge you to follow Jesus, but they don’t welcome you as you are, where you are.
Likewise, there are other churches that welcome but never challenge. Some churches are satisfied with a person simply coming. They will affirm you as you are, but they don’t challenge you to change and grow in Christ. But we believe in a Jesus that wants to change us, wants to transform us, and wants to sometimes challenge and convict us.
Welcome you as you are. Challenge you to grow in Christ. Yes, it sounds simple, but it doesn’t happen too often. As I was sharing that origin story this past week, it occurred to me that this kind of church is still needed now more than it was 15 years ago. I believe there are millions of people who want this kind of community but can’t find it. In the wake of the pandemic, and with just 3 weeks of in person worship under our belt, I believe we are starting this church all over again, with an opportunity to share that invitation of welcome and growth with people who have been burned, bored, or turned off by church. Whether you worship online or in person with us, my hope is that this kind of church excites you. And that you will be a part of launching it all over again for a new generation of people.

P.S. This week, we will continue our series Finding God in the Mess. You can register for in person worship here or worship with us online here. For those of you with kids, we currently have kids ministry for ages kindergarten through fifth grade. We are excited to welcome back our nursery and pre-schoolers beginning June 6, but we need your help. If you are interested in exploring serving in kids ministry please reach out to your site kids director. Their contact information can be found here.

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