Friday, September 21, 2007


Sinners occasionally come to church, either to a small group or a Worship Center. We love it when they do. We are actually praying that God will send us people with "ruin and wreckage" in their lives. But this is where spiritual schizophrenia can set in if we're not careful, because people with ruin and wreckage come with, well, ruin and wreckage. They have "lifestyle issues" that can range from the inappropriate to the illicit to the illegal. Reaching out to sinners can be a messy proposition, to be sure. Sin really does a number on people, and the impact is often profound. So how do we respond to those broken by sin? We roll out the red carpet. We get on the intercom and say four very important words: "Come as you are."

That four-word phrase "come as you are" is absolutely critical to what God is doing in the CTK story. We say those words through our byline, "Always a Place for You." We say those words through our motto, "Forgiveness for the past, hope for the future." We say those words through our mission statement, "An authentic Christian community that effectively reaches out to unchurched people in love, acceptance and forgiveness." I suspect that God has been gracious to us partly because we have said to those broken by their sin, "Come as you are." Deep down, I believe that God will withdraw his hand of favor if we ever roll up the red carpet, or are no longer willing to say those words.

Our pastors are occasionally asked what our posture is toward certain groups of sinners - whether certain groups of sinners are allowed in our small groups or Worship Centers. One answer fits all: Come as you are. God can change lives. God can work miracles. We are just trying to set up an environment where people can be exposed to the powerful, like-changing grace of God. At CTK you can belong before you believe.

At CTK we do not have categories of sinners. There are only people. People like me. People like you. People like us. People who desperately need God's grace. Everyone is welcome to receive God's grace. God will take you where you are. He just won't leave you where you are. To invite them into that life-changing journey we say, "Come as you are."


Is the church supposed to be a showcase or a hospital? We know what it is supposed to be. But what is it in reality? The answer might become more clear when you take a category of sin (think of a good one) and ask whether or not a person with that condition can get in the doors of your Worship Center. If it's a hospital, they'll be more than welcome. If it's a showcase, you might be thinking twice. Jesus made it clear that he came for sinners, for folks with hurts, habits and hang-ups. How clear are we?


What fuels the environment of grace at CTK? Redeemed leaders. Many of the leaders of our mini-movement have fallen hard along the way. There are former swindlers, murderers, and adulterers among our key leaders. Speaking for myself, I am very undeserving to be God's child, much less a leader in His kingdom. But that is what grace is - undeserved favor. I know that if God can take me out of the miry clay and set my feet upon a rock, He can do that for anyone.

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