Are we welcome?

This past Sunday we had a service where our youth sent in questions via text message and our team took turns answering them. I was struck by one of the questions, "My parents and I used to be Jehovah's Witness and now we've made up our own religion. Are we welcome at Shoreline?" Most of my thoughts were drawn from Shaping of Things to Come, The: Innovation and Mission for the 21st-Century Church
  • First off, I posted about our predominant culture's posture towards 'do it yourself' religion and was not surprised to see it show up in our youth meeting. 
  • I also spoke to her about our Church's philosophy. Shoreline wishes to engage Austin's culture and to say that they were not welcome to attend our services based on their beliefs of behavior wouldn't sit well with our leadership. We don't make attendance about belief and behavior, however we make no apology for teaching very specific things about how we believe and how our church family should behave. 
  • Then, there was almost sadness in the question. "Are we welcome?" That part of the text, as it was read aloud broke my heart. In it I heard a longing for community, for belonging, and for connection. This is so prevalent in our culture, regardless of age. 
How about your experience with church communities? What is your experience with church community?  Are there things that people do or believe that would make them unwelcome?

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