In my most recent post here one of the comments mentioned a “come as you are culture” in the church. One my responders, Ani, is from Netherlands and asked what that meant. Rather than just answer her in a comment I thought I would take a stab at it and then allow for you all to be involved also. If you read the post, I mentioned a quote from John Burke’s book No Perfect People Allowed. Jason commented about the book and the “come as you are culture” message of that book (which I also mentioned in my post). So…here goes.
A “come as you are culture” in a church goes so far beyond “attracting” people to the church. It really has nothing to do with the way a building looks or the dress of the people who come or aesthetics or even of the music that is played. I think it is a “mindset” that the people develop toward others. It is, for lack of a better phrase, what makes the church “tick.” Let’s be honest and say that superficial things can draw people but those will eventually wear off. The building can be the latest “industrial look” building. The music can be top-notch and played to the style of the people you are wanting to reach (rock, country, hip-hop, hymns, or whatever). A church can have the latest kid’s program/ Kid’s Kountry play area. Those are all well and good. But that is not what the church is to be about! There is no denying that is part of the church’s culture but John puts a great spin on what culture truly is: “the sum of all behaviors, attitudes and styles of the people, programs, and services.” And while I agree with that definition, I still think that what really matters and truly shows the culture of a particular church are the people. Do they truly accept people “as they are?” Do they overlook the tats, the clothes, even the different faiths of those who come, in order to reach out to them with the love of Jesus. It will definitely require a non-judgmental attitude in the heart of the people Now…please don’t misunderstand me here. I am not talking compromising the Truth. I would jump away from suggesting that in a heartbeat. What I am saying is that the church needs to see people for who and what they are rather than what we expect them to be. Several of those who commented said it well: we have too often given the idea that Christians ought to be perfect and we even come off as not having any sin, or in the least of having “our act” together. Sorry to disappoint people at OVCF or here: I am one who does not have his act together. I can act with the best of them but all that does is make me a liar and a hypocrite, the very things I push/preach against. So…all that to say…a “come as you are culture” comes from the heart and can’t be conjured up by having a fancy-dancy kid’s program or dynamite music. It can’t even come from having a great communicator in the pulpit (which I fall far short of). It is dependent, however, on the non-judgmental, non-critical, “open-minded” hearts of those who attend. And that is just talking about those who attend the church building and not what the church is all about every other day of the week. That, as they say, is another topic for another day.
So, what are your thoughts? Have I missed the boat and given a misrepresentation of my original thought? Please say so if I have. I would also like to hear some of your thoughts if you have the time to share. Help Ani understand what a “come as you are church culture” is.