There's a Wellness Center at a hospital near where I work; it has a little gym, and I go there to do some weight work and to take spin classes. I joined up thinking I'd do more yoga, but to my surprise, I've been able to do spin class. In fact, I love spin class.
I get to the hospital early and walk quickly through the halls--it's quite a hike from the parking garage to the elevators that will take me to the Wellness Center. On weekdays, I'm usually the only one in the hallways. I try to get there early enough to get my weight work done before spin class--so I'm there at 6:00 a.m.
Yesterday, for a change, I wasn't the only one. It's obvious where I'm going, because I have a water bottle and I'm dressed in workout clothes, not scrubs, like the rest of the hospital. The woman down the hallway said, "I keep meaning to get up there, but I never do."
I said, "Some day, I hope you do."
The woman dressed in scrubs shook her head and said, "I wish I had your energy."
I said, "It's the work out that gives me the energy."
As I got to the door where we would part ways, I turned to say, "Come up and join us some time."
On the elevator ride to the 8th floor, I thought about the encounter. Why is it so easy for me to invite someone to spin class or to the Wellness Center and so hard to invite anyone to church? I would never invite a complete stranger to church, but it was easy to issue the invitation to the Wellness Center to a woman I've never met before.
I've met enough unchurched people (and spent some years as a woman without a church home myself) to know that the invitation to church can feel invasive. It can feel insincere.
Of course, the woman had expressed interest in the Wellness Center before I even opened my mouth. It makes it easier to issue an invitation where there is interest.
Which leads to the next logical question: amongst unchurched people, what would make them interested in church? What would lead them to start up a conversation similar to the one I had with the woman in scrubs?
I realize there can be a zillion different answers to that question, where the attraction to the Wellness Center only exists on a few levels (getting fit, getting/staying disease free, losing weight).
And then the harder question: just as my exercise clothes set me apart in the hospital, are there signifiers that set me apart as a Christian?
I'm thinking about more than the cross that some people wear around their necks or the bumper stickers that people plaster on their cars.
Would people know me as a resource, should they want to have that conversation with me?
As I write, I feel my deepest fear bubbling at my edges. I don't want to be seen as a hypocrite. The largest danger with being open about my faith is that people will have certain expectations--and it's all too easy to fail. Then the unchurched will see me as just one more person who can't walk the walk--and that may do more damage than staying quiet.
But I also need to do a better job at realizing that some people are hungry for invitations. I, who am so afraid of being rejected or of failing to be Christ's light in the world, I need to work on offering invitations.
feeling the feelings…
10 months ago