Insiders and Outsiders of the Church

Over the past few weeks, I have been pondering what it means to be part of a faith community. When I am in a group setting I am often aware of what may not make sense to a newcomer. I find this to be true in worship, events, camp, meetings, etc. I believe that this has developed primarily from my service as a pastor at Resurrection. As an organization, we pay particular attention to welcoming first time guests.

The reality of insiders and outsiders in a community has troubled me in some circumstances. However, I recently realized that it is necessary to have insiders and outsiders for a community to have boundaries and any sort of cohesiveness. Without insiders and outsiders, the church would not have any distinction from the rest of the world and the people of the church would not be expected to live to any different standard.

God has not called the church to be a community without borders. There are clear boundaries of belief and practice that identify the church. The question is not, In regard to the church, are there insiders and outsiders? because the answer to that question is necessarily, Yes. The important question is, How are outsiders welcomed and invited to become insiders? How do we live as a community where every person – inside and out – is invited to take a step forward in the journey of becoming a deeply committed Christian?

Institute: The Clique Where Everyone is In (1 of 5)

I spent last week at a youth camp,¬†Institute 2010: God’s All Stars, which is a ministry of the Conference Council on Youth Ministry of the Kansas East Annual Conference. This post is part of a series reflecting on the week and making applications for the local church.

On the first day, I realized that Institute is a clique. There are insider language, traditions, games, jokes and expectations. My first response was negative, do high school students really need another clique? As the week continued I realized a significant difference in the clique that is Institute and others which exist in the world:

Institute is a clique where everyone is in.

If you are present at the camp, you are in. You can be part of the exclusive group, learn the traditions, language, games, jokes and expectations. Everyone is accepted into the clique.

What about your local church? Is there there insiders and outsiders? How do the common words and practices of your local church seem to those who are new? Is everyone in?