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Reflections: The church of the open door

The church should always have open doors, but I’ve had two battles over this.

In one church we replaced the heat and air conditioning system, but never seemed to get the right temperature. We had an energy audit and the tech suggested our rear parking lot door was so large and stayed open so much that we lost a lot of conditioned air.

Our building and property team agreed to add an interior door as an air lock. It was glass and very attractive. One day a member of the committee came to put kick-down door stops on the new door.

“What’s this?” I asked, hopefully kindly.

He explained that chairman Bob thought we needed to prop the door open “until everyone left.” Later I talked with Bob, and we disagreed. I suggested that the whole idea was to “trap” the good air and make it harder to lose, and that no one propped doors open at home “until everyone left.” To no avail. Most Sundays the interior door stayed propped open after Elvis and everybody had left the building.

This was true in another place, too, where I’d drive past the church after lunch and see the doors propped open, “air conditioning the city” as I frequently said dripping sarcasm. It became one of my pastoral duties to stop and close the doors.

So far in my present church we’ve remained stopper-less! I think now I’ve learned what would happen if we had door stops.

But in a larger sense, churches need to have open doors as the church in Philadelphia was labeled in the third chapter of Revelation.

Part of our shameful past is that many of us know churches where people with different ethnicities weren’t welcomed.

I remember a deeply spiritual lady who came to chew on me one Monday morning after some international students from a local college came to worship with us. She was distraught and asked me who invited them. Honestly, I’d not met them before but told her what an honor they came to hear the word of God. She didn’t agree.

Alas, we all have blind spots in our faith lives.

Nowadays we sometimes hear from people in the so-called SOGI community whether they’d be welcomed in our churches. Though we hold to different biblical instruction, I regret that we believers may come across as hateful and judgmental. Of course, everybody should be welcomed to worship God and hear his word. If we started checking people out at the door as to their background and beliefs, we’d probably end up with far fewer folk on Sunday.

I think our default position is to love people. We can work out the details later.

“Reflections” is a weekly faith column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster. The church’s website is siluriabaptist.com.

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