Chris' Blog

09.12.16

Chris Philbeck

All Are Welcome Here

Chris Heurtz is the founder of “Gravity,” a center for contemplative activism and former Director of Word Made Flesh, an organization that helps the world’s poor. In his book, Simple Chrisianity, Heurtz tells the story of a night he and his wife, Phileena, were walking with two companions, Sarah and Josh, through the streets of a destitute region of South Asia. As they walked they came across a person lying under a filthy, fly-infested blanket and it was clear to anyone passing by that the person under the blanket was either dead or dying. Josh bent down and tapped the man on the shoulder. He moved, and when Josh pulled back the blanket they saw a helpless young man in his early 20’s. When the young man realized they wanted to help him, he began to cry uncontrollably. He told them his name: Tutella Dhas. As they tended to the man, a crowd gathered, but no one offered to help. Sarah used a water bottle and some newspaper to clean the young man up. They tried to hail a taxi, but none would stop. Finally they were able, with the help of some local missionaries, to have the young man taken to Mother Teresa’s House for the dying. Following the incident Chris wrote about caring for this young man there on the street. “I lifted my head and caught sight of a church and its sign less than five feet from where we found the dying Tutella Dhas. The sign read, ‘All are welcome here.’ It may have been what inspired someone to drop Tutella in front of the church, but I couldn’t stop wondering if he was really welcomed. I saw people from the church watching as we helped Tutella, and yet their gate remained closed.”

I was standing in the main parking lot at church this weekend waiting to see my grandson, Jack, as he was being dropped off at preschool. While I was waiting our Connections Pastor, Fred Meadows, pulled up and we began to talk (really thankful to have Fred as a part of our staff). I told him how much I liked the new guest parking spaces/signs and the two new “WELCOME” signs outside the main entrance to the church. They really do look great. But we need to remember, there’s much more to being a welcoming church than just having designated parking for guests and “WELCOME” signs. It’s first and foremost about an attitude that says, “We love everyone, because Jesus loves everyone, and that means you’re welcome here.” But that’s not even enough. If Mount Pleasant Christian Church is really a place where “All are welcome,” then we will make it a part of our daily walk to extend an invitation to the people we know and the people we meet. Let me ask you a very honest and direct question: When is the last time you invited someone to church? I’m talking about a personal, face-to-face invitation. I’ve got to be honest and say that it’s been a little while for me. I can get busy and distracted and can think it's someone else’s responsibility. But it’s not – it’s my responsibility/privilege as much as anyone else. So I’m going to change that this week and I’m challenging you to do the same because, “All are welcome here!”

Pastor Chris