Monday, April 17, 2006


Our byline, “Always A Place For You” communicates that CTK is a place of acceptance. Our mission is to deliver on the promise.

I am often reminded how critical acceptance is to CTK’s culture. Many people have found acceptance at CTK, when they have not felt accepted in another church context. After a service one time a lady who was going through a difficult time approached me and described her previous church experience: “The church we were attending was a really nice church if you didn’t have very big problems. But the more I opened up to people about what we were going through the more they pulled away.”

Romans 15:7 asks us to "accept one another....just as Christ accepted you." At CTK we like to say: God takes you where you are. He just won’t leave you where you are. When people enter a CTK small group, café or Worship Center, we assume that they are coming to us with “baggage.” We presuppose that they do not have their stuff together. We welcome them as “fellow-strugglers.”

Ministry is simply helping people where they are, with what they need to get where they need to go. Sometimes, when people do not feel acceptance, they don’t get where they need to go. At CTK we try to accept people as they are without trying to make them conform into a pre-conceived image. We try not to manipulate people. We try to stay out of the judgment seat. We don’t demand that others accept our views or lifestyle in order to get our time and attention.

Some of our friends sent their kids to stay with relatives in Southern California while they went on a cruise. I asked how their kids liked Disneyland. Mom said that the kids enjoyed it, although the first words of their youngest daughter when she got off the plane was, "You know that Pluto? I went up to give him a hug and he walked away from me." I jokingly told the parent, “You better start setting money aside right now for therapy.” We all have a strong need for acceptance, and a great fear of rejection, that we don't outgrow.

Many people fear that they are not good enough for Christians, for church or for God. Ironically, the misconception is based on lies that have been manufactured by Satan and distributed by Christians. Well meaning Christians have trafficked in the “there are good people, and there are bad people” distortion. The extension of this, of course, is that the church walls are the dividing line. The people who have their stuff together are inside the walls of the church. The people outside the wall are not good people.

The lie that there are good people and bad people takes two forms. The first is that we could never do what others have done. The other is that others could not do what we have done. There is a pathology among people that wants to think there are good people and bad people. The Bible blows this up: "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God."

When Jesus was brought a woman who was caught in adultery he said, “Let's go ahead and stone her. Why don't those of you who are without sin throw the first stone.” He made his point. It is a fallacy to think that we could never do what others have done. We already have done what others have done. We've sinned.

The second expression of the “good people, bad people fallacy” is to think that others could never do what we have done. Sometimes the “good people, bad people” lie plays out in the form of shameful feelings that we are the ones who are hopelessly broken. In reality we are all made out of the same stuff – dust and divine spit - and sometimes it’s not very good stuff.

Shame takes root because of an unfair comparison. We have inside information on ourselves. But as we look at others, we see only what they allow us to see. We compare what we know about ourselves on the inside to what we see of others on the outside. Thus Paul instructed, “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise” (2 Corinthians 10:12). We have to trust the Bible when it tells us that we are all in the same boat. There are not good people and bad people. There are just people. People in need of a savior.

We are NOT responsible for other's behavior, no matter what someone in church may have told you. This is how this plays out: Someone comes along, and they have problems in their life, and we start to feel that their problem somehow reflects on us. What if people know that this person is attending our church? Won't that somehow reflect on the rest of us? The biblical answer is no.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. - 2 Corinthians 5:10

Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. - Romans 14:4

People don't answer to us. They answer to God. We do not have a responsibility for people. We have a responsibility to people.

Judgmental people sometimes ask me, "Do you know that ‘so and so’ is attending your church?" My response probably surprises them. I say, “Hey that's great! Thank you so much for letting me know. We are praying that God will send us broken people….people with ruin and wreckage in their lives. I guess He’s answering our prayer!”

In a traditional church the sense you often get is that “We all have our stuff together, and if anyone comes in here who doesn’t have their stuff together we are going to be all over that.” At CTK we have turned that inside out. We regularly communicate “We are here because we know that we do not have our stuff together, and if anyone ever comes in here who does seem to have their stuff together we are going to be all over that.”

The “good news” is, even though we are all sinners, God is a God of grace. Christ died for us all. He doesn’t want anyone to perish. God is redemptive. With God, there are no hopeless causes. There are future chapters to be written in every person’s story. We share in the vision of what God can do in a life.

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