What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word ‘usher’? Mine would be someone who welcomes me into a venue and ensures I’m comfortably seated. What about the word, ‘bouncer’? The mental I have is that of a huge guy standing at the entrance of a party or nightclub with a look that says, ‘don’t even try.’ The former shows you in, the latter keeps or drives you out when it comes to it.

So one might ask, how one with a welcoming, warm and smiling look double play the part of one with a cold and uninviting outlook? Well, welcome to today’s church.
Pastors (or should I say some of them) keep drumming into our ears to ‘go into the world and rescue the perishing’ for the end of the world is nigh. We are encouraged to invite at least one person to church and show him the love of Christ. It is our responsibility to ensure that heaven is densely populated and hell is depopulated.
We clap loudly when visitors introduce themselves to the congregation and express interest to join as members. Most people are eager to shake hands with them and welcome them to the fold, telling them that they have come to the right place. We take their numbers and promise to be in touch. After all, it’s fellowship, right?

It is an indisputable fact that the members of every church have varying levels of maturity in Christ. Not necessarily by age or how long they claim to have accepted Christ into their lives, but by how their lives are constantly being renewed by knowing Him. Some members are newly-born babies, some others are babies who have refused to grow, there are those with stunted growth, those who keep backsliding and falling back in line, those growing steadily and those who have really matured. It takes wisdom to nurture each category of believers to grow and be fruitful.

But it looks like when the pastors and the evangelism team are doing their best to bring people in to fill in the pews, there are some members who have taken it upon themselves to drive them out because they don’t ‘belong.’ They don’t dress the part and talk with scriptures laced up in their words. I call them the church ‘bouncers.’

The church isn’t the haven for the perfect; it is the refuge for the broken and messed up. And like every ailment, each patient responds to treatment differently. Some people heal rapidly; others do so slowly. It is not ethical for a doctor to rush a patient’s treatment because he thinks it is taking too long. His job is to administer the drug and hope for the best. Same way, the self-acclaimed ‘saints’ shouldn’t determine the pace at which someone grows. Ours is to plant and water; only God can do the growing.

It is indeed sad that some people have left church because a comment a fellow member passed about them. It is our job as Christians to usher them into God’s kingdom and not join the demons in driving them out. Just like our parents would discipline us when we did wrong but still love us as their own, we should learn how to rebuke in love and help them get back on track instead of pushing them out. Jesus came to die for them for crying out loud. Who are you to say he/she is not welcome?

What are you, an usher or a bouncer?

© Josephine Amoako 2016

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