I had one of the saddest and most frustrating conversations of my life at The Gathering’s Soup Kitchen last night.

Frustrating because it was of a theme that keeps rearing its ugly head, and sad because we the church are responsible.

Towards the end of the Soup Kitchen there were a few regulars who had arrived late and we were chatting, when one of them, a mum of one of our Homework Club kids, asked if he was actually attending? Knowing the lad is a bit of a tear-away I got the register to show her just how regular he really is. She was thrilled and from there the conversation really opened up until she asked about Gathering Ground, our weekly ladies’ gathering and she said she would pop in one week. I assured her she would be welcome and encouraged her as much as I could to give it a go.

Eventually the conversation got around to church and what time we meet on a Sunday. Now I’m guilty of being a bit dismissive of this question because I get asked the same thing every week and never see anything come of it. This mum however was different, and I’ve known her for a couple of years so stuck with it and explained that we gather from 10am and we’re not like many other churches locally in that we welcome everyone and encourage all to come as they are. All are welcome and we turn no one away.

This mum then said the saddest and most frustrating thing, she said “I don’t feel welcome in any of the other churches!”.

The sad and frustrating part of this is that we the church are responsible for this. We told her, and hundreds of thousands of others that they aren’t welcome, largely because they’re not good enough.

This make me so sad and frustrated!

When will the church grasp Jesus’ words “love you neighbour as yourself” and truly welcome everyone regardless of their situation and social standing?

At The Gathering we don’t care if you’re lekker dronk or high on Tik, you’re very welcome amongst us!


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