Hello. I’m a Christian. I have things to say sometimes so here’s a blog. One thing I heard on a Christian radio station struck a chord. It’s about how Christian groups churches organisations etc can be less than welcoming to new people. Wow yeah. I’ve experienced that and it’s a total turn off. As someone pretty new to the faith I found it very annoying and upsetting when some people did it to me. In the end after making several hints that I could do with a hand I resorted to just standing in obvious silence until one finally got the message and did what it should have been quite obvious was required. But even after nearly a year they still assume I know things they have grown up with over 30 years. I like those people a lot but they just assumed I would know stuff that a moment’s thought makes it quite clear I couldn’t, and being welcoming seems to be a skill in short supply everywhere.
Another unpleasant experience was with the very radio station that had said how counterproductive such unwelcomes could be. I really liked that station but they have really upset me and even when I told them this their perfunctory and pathetic attempt at an apology only made the hurt they caused worse. As a consequence I have never listened to them again. They sent out an email promotion for a programme that basically asked the question can fat people be Christians. I’m a bit overweight and even though I have a pretty thick skin I found it at once absurd unchristian and hurtful, and cannot imagine I’m the only one who did.
I can understand that people make mistakes – we are all human after all and acceptance and forgiveness is what Christianity is in part about, but the last place you expect to feel rejected is at the place people are asking you to come in to. No wonder many churches are empty. At least I know Jesus isn’t like that, which is why I haven’t given up, but I can see how easy it is for a few thoughtless people in the Christian community to turn away the very people they profess to want to join them and hear the good news.
Perhaps I’ll always be a bit if an outsider – it’s always been so – but perhaps the outsider on the inside is just what is needed by some groups to remind them how they really look to the rest of the outside world they are hoping to welcome in.