“And the sign said, “Everybody welcome, come in, kneel down, and pray.”
I had a religious experience with Tesla, a couple of buddies and a couch. I had never heard of Tesla when we sat down there that night. I had never heard this song, but we listened to it on repeat about a dozen times. I didn’t know it then, but that moment was informing the rest of my ministry.
At the time I had no plans on being a pastor. I had no inkling of going to seminary or studying about John Wesley. To be honest, I probably didn’t know what a seminary was. Yet listening to this song shaped the way I felt about church.
I never had long hair, and never felt compelled to trespass on someone’s property. I never belonged to any club with membership cards. Yet I understood what it meant to be unaccepted. I understood what it meant for people to build walls that God would not want built. The song claimed a piece of my heart, and it is still with me.
Once I became a pastor I decided it would be really cool to put that on the church sign. Now I’ve got my fancy seminary education and I can tell you all about John Wesley and ecclesiology and neo-orthodoxy. I have studied the New Testament and the Hebrew Bible. I have analyzed Jesus’ parables, and I’ve written Bible studies and sermons. All of it still leads me to this song. I still think it summarizes what church should be about.
It is about invitation to all. It is about opening hearts, minds, and doors so that all are welcome. It is about offering the grace of Jesus Christ to the least, last and lost. It is about tearing down those walls that humans are so good at building. I’m not sure why it has taken me so long, but here it is: