Picky Fishermen: Rejecting the Stigma of the Church Elite
By Jordan DeVeaux
“When you have reached your own room, be kind to those who have chosen different doors and to those who are still in the hall. If they are wrong they need your prayers all the more; and if they are your enemies, then you are under orders to pray for them. That is one of the rules common to the whole house.” –C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
As one begins to contemplate the words of C.S. Lewis, a convert to the faith, Christians are presented with a dilemma. How do we simultaneously preach against sin and love the sinner? In a time such as this, with sin being glamorized in every form, the church seems to be at a crossroads. However, the church must also look in the mirror.
Granted, the church is simply a hospital with spiritually sick patients in the pews. We were once the ones in the hall. We too were the lost sheep being searched out by the shepherd. It is imperative that we allow ourselves to glance in the rear-view mirror from time to time because we were not born saved. God had to come find us.
The stigma of the church elite is a facade created by the frequent flying, front pew enthusiasts. However, God once dusted off these same wanderers on the road to Damascus. Yet, they seem to have gone blind again. In what seems to have been a decade’s time, the church has adopted, in the words of Pastor Denny D. Davis, an “aquarium keeper” condition. As a church, we are experts in tending to those in our sanctuaries, bible studies, and prayer meetings. However, at times we forget that the church is not a building. The church should know no boundaries. There should be no corner of the earth where we will not minister. Jesus called us to be “fishers of men,” not to tend to the aquarium.
In an article concerning the spiritual condition of millennials, a woman disclosed her unfortunate reality, “‘Church has always felt exclusive and cliquey, like high school.’ With sadness in her voice she continued, ‘and I’ve never been good at that game so I stopped playing.’” As a church, it is our obligation to welcome all who seek.
The word became flesh in order to save everyone, no exceptions. The word says that the church is Christ’s bride. As such, we are intertwined and betrothed to Jesus. So, it is our privilege to emulate his ideals; and the greatest of these is love, unconditional love.
As Christ’s ambassadors, it is not our job—nor do we have the power—to turn people away. We are witnesses and not judges. Compromising or changing God’s message is not the goal nor is it necessary. The word of God stands on its own. However, hand-selecting our “favorite” scriptures is a dangerous game and a slippery slope. Passages about sin and punishment should not overshadow the ones about love, forgiveness, and compassion. When we draw a line in “unconditional” love, we lose souls that could potentially have been used for the Kingdom of God.
No souls should be sacrificed for the sake of our inability to disarm the stigma of the church elite. It is essential for the church to realize that the next generation of believers needs to see the loving side of the church and not only the disciplinary one. The church should always be waiting with open arms.
Lewis, C. S., Mere Christianity. Special centenary ed. London: Fount, 1997.
 Eaton, Sam. “59 Percent of Millennials Raised in a Church Have Dropped Out—And They’re Trying to Tell Us Why.” Faith It.