I spent last night with a group of men and women who had been through devastating life circumstances that left them feeling like they had made too many mistakes to receive God’s love. The night consisted of welcoming those who felt alienated and had been made to feel unwelcome in the church. Those who felt like maybe they are not “church people.” Those whom the church had hurt unintentionally. Hurt by those at church who maybe gave them an arms length welcome and then sat far away. 

Sometimes unintentional hurts are actually more hurtful than intentional ones, because it means that the person who has been hurt has been forgotten. Looked over. A person who has been unintentionally hurt in this manner is not quick to forget the feeling. 

It was exactly what I needed. Somewhere in the midst of “iron sharpening iron” and Christians desperately seeking spiritual maturity, embrace of individual quirks, struggles and personality seems to get lost in the mix. All it takes is one poorly advised, spoken without love “Christian brotherhood” conversation to cause a person to retreat into their innermost self and begin to repeat the common Christian verbiage in an effort to fit into church culture. A church is a community that struggles with group dynamics and group think just like any other group might. Often, there seems to be an inner circle. And in the quest to enter this inner circle Christians begin to talk and interact in inauthentic ways that do not ring true to the person that God created them to be in the first place. 

The Inner Circle in Christian communities is particularly damaging because of one thing. The Bible. And one person. Jesus. 

The church in its truest form should be running to those who feel like they are “not church people.” The Inner Circle should be so immersed in the lives of those in the outer circle that lines between the two no longer exist. 

Living in community is important, however, there is a fine line between living in community and living in an clique that does not seek to pursue the hurting or alienated wherever they might be. 

I think, we all, deep inside feel like we are not really “church people.” It moved me to tears to see the incredible amount of humility and love these “not church people” had in their pursuit of Jesus. It was messy, broken, beautiful, and full of the presence of God. 

Broken, alienated, humble, beautiful, inspiring and true. 

An honor to stand in the outer circle with the “not church people.”