Being an Inclusive Church

by Rachel Sandrock

You may be aware our church is changing. You may be unaware. You may come in and sit in the same pew every Sunday and talk to the same people and never notice the new visitors or the people who joined a year ago but are in a different Sunday school class than you. Why would you? They probably aren’t your age; they don’t dress like you; and they probably don’t have anything in common with you. What would you even talk to them about? Maybe you have noticed them but never said anything, and now they have been here too long to welcome them as a visitor – that would be rude.  You are too embarrassed to ask their name because they have sat 3 rows over for 6 months, and you shake their hand or nod across the aisles every Sunday. You don’t know where they fit in at your church. After all, one came to church last Sunday with a Mohawk.

I moved to Tomball 6 years ago from Houston. I told the realtor to turn around because we were already too far from Houston before we even got to the house. I mean, the freeway ended! I fell in love with Tomball, but it took me awhile. It wasn’t until I found my church home at First Baptist Church Tomball that I really began to call it home. Sure, I justified it to my Houston friends that it wasn’t the country – until we found a 5 foot snake in our driveway – but I still kept my social life and my friendships in Houston.

When I opened up to First Baptist Church Tomball and met new friends is really when my Tomball life began. Adults don’t make friends that easily. It takes work. I came to church for a year before I joined, never really talking to anyone but my husband or the greeter at the front door. When I finally started going to Sunday school, I was forced to talk face to face with people, learn their names and their hearts. I was welcomed in.

Sound familiar? In a church as big as ours, it is nearly impossible to know everyone, to remember every name you are introduced to, to step out of your comfort zone and into someone else’s. But that is exactly what I challenge you to do. From local Tomball-grown, to downtown Houston-bred, to accents you aren’t sure where they come from but they definitely aren’t from around here, our church is growing. To use a buzz word, it is diversifying, and if you don’t include yourself by including them, you will miss it all. We are the body of Christ: the hands and feet, the caretakers of the church. I am a church member.  It is my duty to share the love of Christ in everything I do, which means introducing yourself instead of walking by. Would Jesus pass by someone in need? Never. The need to fit in is as strong a need as any. To call a church "home". To FEEL that a church is home.  It starts by saying hello.

Your assumption is wrong. They do have something in common with you: seeking God. Whether they have been a Christian their whole lives or for a moment or still deciding, they are here with you on Sunday morning, on Wednesday night, at many events, seeking God and trying to find where they fit. Show them where they fit, right here beside you, amidst sinners seeking God.

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