On the weekend Natalie and I attended the baptism of a child whose parents are not regular church goers. And it was something of an adventure!
You see, attending a church service as part of a crowd of mainly non-church goers meant that we were sort of ‘undercover Christians’ for the day (although anyone seated near us during the hymns, the prayers or the creed might have had reason to suspect at least some familiarity with church things on our part).
And just like an episode of ‘undercover boss’, there’s both good and not so good to report.
First the good stuff:
Several congregation members extended a friendly and amicable welcome to us — not just smiling but stopping to chat and see that we felt ‘at home’.
Better still, I can report that the service was unashamedly Christian, gospel-focussed and delivered genuine spiritual reality without compromising on accessibility for guests — very 1 Corinthians 14.
On the not so good side, the really interesting thing was the assumption that we weren’t Christian that seemed to underpin the way congregation members related to us.
The way this expressed itself was subtle. But we definitely noticed it — especially when it tilted towards an almost apologetic defensiveness or attempt at self-justification (about what happened at the service, etc).
I’m sure I’ve made this mistake myself. And I suppose there are worse mistakes to make. Like assuming that everyone is Christian and automatically ‘gets’ what’s being said and done without any further ado.
But I’m not 100% sure that not making this assumption should leave us assuming that any strangers who walk through our doors are either uncomprehending or potentially hostile.
What’s your feeling?