Gordon MacDonald in Leadership Journal (winter 2014 p 29) writes about his experience attending an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, I haven’t finished the article, but immediately I see so many parallels to what church should be:
“I was no sooner seated than the people on either side of me introduced themselves … and expressed gladness that I was there.” Shouldn’t that be what happens at church, a new person sits down and those around him/her make him feel welcome? “In fact, before the hour ended, four men, one after another handed me cards and said, ”I’m John, here’s my cell number. Call me anytime, and I’ll come and meet you if you need a friend.” What can I add to that? I also like that the meetings get right to it, no messing around, no one more quick word with your buddy. We are here for a reason, let’s get to it and do it.
MacDonald takes his turn to speak and tells them (since he’s not an alcoholic he doesn’t say “I’m an alcoholic”) but just says it’s my first time here. The response is “keep on coming, keep on coming”, he says that is said in the same way in church we might say “‘Praise the Lord”. He also notes as the others speak “change does not come easily, but it does come.” This is the same as church, as being a Christian, you do not automatically become right up to snuff, but God takes you, using the Body of Christ, the people there who make up Christ’s Body and begins to change you, begins the process of being more Christ-like. That is so great, everyone there encouraging the person “to keep coming, keep coming.” My take away is that we are all glad to be here, we are glad you are here, we look forward to knowing you better, and being good disciples. So don’t stop now, you’ve only begun!
No one feels they should somehow “chose”, AA , like the church, it is what it is and has stood the test of time. It’s not catering to the new generation or some secular fad, both have proven that when people become serious, about a serious form of worship (read liturgical) the church has been leading people to Christ and feeding them in this form of worship for centuries. Trying to make it into entertainment or buddy-buddy doesn’t move you closer to Christ doesn’t leave you in awe of a great, all knowing, all powerful God who can make real changes in your life, really can lead you into new life in Christ and will ultimately lead you into an eternal resurrection. When you have brothers and sisters in Christ they sometimes become closer to you then family. They are there to help you and guide you. They know that they are just beggars who know where the bread is and help others . They are excited to see you there and want to help you as much as possible. AA, like the church, isn’t there for your convenience or your comfort, it’s there to actually make you feel challenged, a little outside yourself, a feeling that there is so much more and I’m missing it and I’m also messing myself up more by not taking it in and growing in it. (After all the only alternative is the sinfulness, a lost, dead world)And it’s also there to make you very aware of what everyone else needs, for the Church everyone needs Jesus and we in the church have to understand that and look for what our individual role is in helping others to know Him as Savior and Lord.
When there’s someone new, go over and meet them, no pretense, no stuffiness, just simply an attitude of: “this is someone who the Holy Spirit has brought here to worship and since the Holy Spirit has put that person near me, then I have to greet that person as a brother or sister. Excited, enthusiastic (but not obnoxious), looking forward to what God has in store for us, and letting them know that just like any good brother or sister, I am there for them, that I look for what the Holy Spirit has for me to do in that person’s life. Isn’t that great? What an adventure!