We had Greg Paul speak to a church I pastored. Greg Paul heads Sanctuary Ministries, a church and ministry that reaches “some of the most hurting and excluded people in Toronto.”
I thought Greg would be impressed with all the programs we offered to serve the people of our community. He scanned our bulletin, and then took a look around at those who had gathered to worship that morning.
“I commend you for your heart to serve others,” he said. “But I do want to challenge you. You are a trying to be a church for the excluded, but you are not a church of the excluded.” Instead of serving the poor and marginalized, we were called to be a community that welcomed them. No more us and them; simply us. Not a church for them, but a church of them.
Not just for, but of. Only a small difference in wording, but it makes all the difference in the world. Not a church for the mentally ill, but a church of the mentally ill. Not a church for the poor, but a church of the poor. Not a church for the those with a past, but a church of those with a past. And so on.
You had better believe I’m thinking about this as we plant a church in Liberty Village.