There can be few things worse than someone needing help walking into a church and not being accepted. Trust me, it happens more than you can imagine. The very institution that should be the most welcoming and accepting of people can be the coldest and unwelcoming of people. That’s because churches are made up of people, and people are broken.
I’ve been in churches that were not so welcoming to people of different races and nationalities. I’ve heard people talk about specific types of kids not being wanted in a particular ministry. I’ve seen people with a higher social status or income treated with more privilege. All of the above and other types of prejudice are unacceptable in the Church of Jesus Christ.
In James 2:1, this problem of unacceptance is addressed. “My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.” James goes in the following verse to call out people who accept people wearing nice clothes and do not accept those wearing shabby clothes.
The problem of acceptance goes much deeper than the clothes you wear. It also involves the lifestyles people live. The value of acceptance in the Church means that anyone and everyone is accepted. We want to offer a warm and friendly welcome to everyone who walks in the doors of our local church. Like Jesus, we even welcome “tax collectors and sinners” into our midst. Everyone is wanted and welcome.
It is essential to state, however, that an attitude of acceptance is not the same thing as approving of everyone’s lifestyle. The Bible is clear that God is holy, and he does not condone sin. If the Bible calls something sin, we can’t ignore it. We must love people enough to help them find repentance and forgiveness for their sins if they are searching for it.
We certainly accept everyone who walks into our church, but we love them enough to speak the truth and help them find forgiveness from sin. In John 8:11, Jesus speaks to the woman caught in adultery, and he says, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” Jesus accepted this woman while simultaneously calling her to stop sinning. He spoke truth to her while caring for her at the same time.
Scripture tells us that Jesus was “full of grace and truth”(John 1:14). That tells us that Jesus had the perfect balance between loving people and not being afraid to speak truth to them. A church with an attitude of acceptance is one where people can come and be loved and still find the truth. This was a disciple-making church.
At Impact Discipleship Ministries, we are committed to helping churches identify the correct biblical values needed in a disciple-making church. If we can help you with these values or the steps to having a disciple-making process, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at impactdisciples.com. We are here to help.