As I was walking in the park the other day, I came across two homeless men. I was taking surveys to figure out some of the health needs for people in the community. One of the men was very chatty and talked to us about all sorts of things, like politics, insurance, and the Bible. I was shocked about all of his knowledge about the history of the Bible; he was obviously intelligent, and it was disheartening to see that he was homeless. While on the subject of faith, I asked the other man if he was part of a church, or would be interested in attending one in the neighborhood. He responded with, “No, I don’t like churches around here…Sunday’s too much of a social event and not really about God.” I asked more questions to see why he felt that way. He said he had been to some churches and left them because people texted during the service, got up to make calls, or (by his interpretation) just came for the punch and cookies afterward.
His explanation left me with a mixture of emotions and questions for myself. I never find myself too upset when I hear a phone go off in church. They forgot to put it on vibrate or silent; it happens. But after hearing what he said, I asked, “Should I be more upset when that happens?” and “Why is it that I’m not that upset?” Perhaps I am not because I am one those people. Perhaps God led me to this particular man so that he could bring about this realization. His statement put things into perspective. Sunday services being a social event is not the way we want to promote our church, or ourselves. It is not the type of church fellowship where those in the community can be discipled in their faith. If he feels this way, and others in the community agree with him, it is not possible for us to reconcile people to God in that environment. We are being our own worst enemy. I (and the church) need to be more aware of my actions and the image I am portraying. I think that instead of me reconciling this homeless man to God, he reconciled me.
- Kara Zondervan