The WELCOME poster on our van… a bit more information.
We have had a lot of comments about the WELCOME poster, and have even had churches ask if they can use it. But what does it mean? It’s not a doctrinal statement or a succinct statement of belief by any means, but it does say what the Gospel is all about – you are invited to share life with Jesus no matter whether you feel worthy or not, whether you have it all together or are just struggling to find a way through, like the rest of us. So here is some information about the poster and the message in it.
Who wrote this
The poster was written by our pastor. The idea came from a notice in a Catholic church newsletter somewhere in America many years ago which said, in a nut shell, that everyone is welcome, no matter what life has been up until now. If you want a copy of the poster, let us know and we will put you in touch with him.
... everyone, no matter what life situation you are in, no matter who you are or what you have done or believed up until this point, is loved by God and welcomed
It is intended to convey the message that everyone, no matter what life situation you are in, no matter who you are or what you have done or believed up until this point, is loved by God and welcomed by Him into His family. There are no exceptions. Zero. Zilch. Zippo. None. Nothing you have done and nothing you can ever do will make God think that you are not someone He wants to know. How do we know that? Well, look at the people Jesus chose to hang around. They certainly didn’t fit the mold of being the ‘right kind of people’. God accepts us exactly where we are, but the beautiful thing is that He doesn’t leave us there – He leads us to become better, more healthy, whole people when we walk with Him.
... we (What If) will do our utmost and best to welcome everyone.
It is also intended to convey that we want to be like Him, and so we also will do our utmost and best to welcome everyone. Now, you do need to understand that we are not perfect, so we will get it wrong sometimes and sometimes things we say or do may communicate something different, something that someone may take offence at, but that is not our intent and we are trying. We ask that you give us a bit of slack if we get it wrong, just like God gives us slack when we get it wrong and He gives you slack when you get it wrong. That’s kind of the whole point. Let’s face it, none of us get it right all the time, but we do try. So please forgive us if we inadvertently say or do something that offends – we certainly don’t mean to. And if we do, please talk to us so that we can try to make it right again.
... It is not intended to mean that we (What If) , either individually or collectively, think that everything on the list is wholesome, or good, or beneficial to our lives.
What the poster is not intended to convey is that anything and everything is either good, healthy, beneficial or pleasing to God. It is not intended to mean that we, either individually or collectively, think that everything on the list is wholesome, or good, or beneficial to our lives. In other words, there are things on that list that are, according to the Bible, sinful. But again, that is kind of the whole point. We mess up, but that doesn’t stop God loving us. We think or believe things that I am quite sure God shakes His head at and asks “really?”, but He still loves us. And we have things in our lives that make us feel less than we should either about us or about others or about God, but God still wants to be friends with us.
... God wants for us to walk closely with Him.
Did you notice in that last paragraph that I said sinful, not sin? That was deliberate. I think often we think of specific things as being a sin, while we excuse other things because they feel or look right to us, and that is where we end up in a fight with each other when what I consider to be “a sin” is different to what you consider to be “a sin”. Without going into all the details (which I can if you want, but you would have to buy me a coffee and sit down with me to chat), what makes anything sinful is its ability or effect of taking us away from God – of separating us from Him in either our thoughts or actions. If something damages us and moves us away from God, it is not a good thing. And if it is true that God wants for us to walk closely with Him, which it is, then these things are the things that God would have us avoid. When we understand that sin is a verb (that is, a doing word), sometimes an adjective (that is, a descriptive word), but not a noun (that is, an actual object), then we can avoid getting bent out of shape about what is and is not a sin and focus on following Jesus. If we do that, we will find that it is a lot harder to get offended and a lot easier to accept that some of our stuff is not helpful in life.
... We are not inclined to call bad good or good bad any more than God does.
We are not inclined to call bad good or good bad any more than God does, as He shows us in Jesus and in the Bible, and we have to say, if that offends you, then we’re sorry about that, but we kind of have to follow God in this stuff to the best of our ability. Maybe if something we are saying here hits a nerve with you, there is a reason for that and you should talk to us about it.
... If you find yourself on that list, please know that both we, and God, would love to have you as part of our family.
So if you find yourself on that list, please know that both we, and God, would love to have you as part of our family. If your life is messy (and to be honest, there is no other kind), then let us help you meet the God who can help you clean it up. And if you find that you are offended or taken aback by something on that list, then equally know that we would love to get to know you, and to be able to explain why that thing is on there.