Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Can church exclude?

Does your church exclude people?  Are there people who are not allowed on the premises?  I guess we'd all be quick to say no.  But there are a range of ways of excluding people.  Not inviting them and not making church accessible to them are two simple ways we ought to think carefully about in regards to church.

Who are we not inviting?  Is there a segment of the population based on class, ethnicity, or some other factor who we are simply not reaching or building relationships with.  We will most naturally share the gospel with those we come into contact with everyday, work colleagues, parents at the school gates, those who we play sport with and so on.  But what about everyone else?  Does geography or class exclude them and if so what are we going to do about it?

Not making church accessible is another way we might exclude someone or a group of people.  We all know our buildings have to have disabled access, those with physical disabilities must be able to gain access to the building.   We ought to think about our services in the same way.  Is someone who is low literacy able to access this service or does the sheer volume of reading exclude them?  Is someone who is autistic able to access the service?  What about someone from a different ethnicity or tradition or class?  What assumptions about people's lives do we make in this service?  Is the service so monoculture that others will not be able to access it and will therefore conclude that church is not for them they are not really wanted, they are excluded?

There are things you can do to overcome that.  The quality of welcome and follow up goes a long way towards overcoming these barriers.  But just thinking through your service with an eye and an ear to those who may come along and feel excluded and making small changes may make a big difference.

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