"We want to welcome you to ____________ Church where we are a safe place for you if you're exploring what you believe or who Jesus is...."
I immediately asked myself: "What does he mean by safe place?"
Did he mean that their church is a place that is a safe place from persecution? If you're wanting to figure out how to be a Christian, did he mean that you need not worry about losing your head for it because this church is off the grid of those seeking to harass Christians?
No, that can't be it. (although it's probably more true than they realize)
Did he mean that their church was in a safe neighborhood where they can walk from the parking lot to the sanctuary without getting shot by a drive by shooting?
No, probably not even though the church is located in one of the nicer cities in the Bay Area.
Did he mean that their church is a safe place from those who would try to confuse them with false doctrine and that they would be safe from any kind of confusion and interference from their path way to learning about the truth?
No, I really doubt that too.
Did he mean that their church is a safe place where people can hide their sin and never worry about the dangers of Christ shining His annoying and glaring light of holiness on their disobedient lifestyles? Did he mean that their church is a safe place where you can blend in and nobody will really know who you are because you don't have to make any commitments? Did he mean that their church was a safe place from the shackles of accountability to one another?
Yes, I think that's more along the lines of what he meant. Why do I think so? It has been my experience over the last few years at our church that when we get people who come to the church who are not willing to join and not really committed, something in our church (by design) tends to shine light on their sin and they get uncomfortable and leave. They find that our church is not a safe place to harbor their sin.
Sometimes its counseling - they expect me to listen to them and stroke their ego and their pride and make them feel good about themselves and tell them that everything is going to be OK. Instead, they get the truth spoken to them and they have a decision to make; repent and believe or go away. I don't tell them to go away, but they know that they won't feel comfortable and safe in their sin once they decide not to listen to the Word of God.
Sometimes its a Bible study group - We don't get together and share each other's ignorance about what we think the Bible means to us. We are looking for objective truth and sometimes it's not something that a person wanted to hear, so they get offended and leave. Their own earthly wisdom is not going to find a safe place in our community groups.
Sometimes its in a preaching service - I remember some people coming from a liberal church that wasn't open minded enough about alternative lifestyles and they were looking for a safe place where that issue wouldn't be brought up. That morning, the sermon was about "the fear of the Lord" and even though I didn't mention anything about alternative lifestyles in particular, you could tell that they were very uncomfortable with the message and couldn't wait to jet out.
So, if a person wants to come and find a family who will love them, help them, be patient with them, apply the Scripture to their lives so they can grow in grace, then our church is a safe place. But if a person wants to come and keep his sin safe from being confronted with the truth in one way or another, then no, we're not a safe place.
~ Originally posted at Reforming Baptist