On Being an Outsider

I recently attended a conference at a smaller church explicitly designed for preachers. Going into the situation, I had done a little homework and knew my tribe of Churches did not put it together. This gathering was the work of another denomination and some of their better-known preachers in my state.

Walking into a room of about 140 strangers is a weird feeling, most of whom have the same job as I do, but I did not know a single person. It was a little scary because I was unfamiliar with how they handled things and felt like I might do something wrong.

Eventually, the conference started, and no one noticed me. No one acknowledged I was there with even a handshake. As people took the stage, I felt like even more of an outsider. There were inside jokes among the people speaking, and I was clueless. The introductions were short, and I was unsure who was speaking and why. Everyone seemed to know each other and enjoy their time together. It was interesting to watch, but I knew the whole time that I was not part of the group.

Someone has to be brave to be an outsider to a community of people, yet hundreds and thousands of people will try it with the Church this Easter. They will muster up all their courage and walk into a group of strangers to grow closer to God.

The challenge for the community of faith is to make everyone feel welcome and for the insiders to reach out and talk to new people. They are to shake hands with them and ask them about their lives. They can offer to share a seat or show them around to make them feel at home. They can explain anything that might be confusing and help them get acclimated. Christians should do everything in their power to show the love of Jesus to people who attend their programs.

I spent two days as an outsider, and when the conference was over, I determined that I would never go back. I pray that no one feels that way after visiting your Church this Easter season.


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