I have been thinking about a lot of things lately. One of them has been the parable of the prodigal son. It has somewhat surrounded me lately. I’ve been frequently visiting Jon’s blog over at Stuff Christians like and also Prodigal Jon. Several other bloggers have been writing on this blog recently and several books that I’ve read recently have been about this passage.
There are a lot of things we can learn about the passage. We can learn about the love of God. We can learn about our desperate situation. We can even learn about the right and wrong way to act towards sinners.
That last part is the thing that has really been bugging me lately. It seems that the real point is the way we act. The parables in Luke 15 are set off by the Pharisees complaining that Jesus was handing out with the wrong crowd. He was with the sinners and tax collectors. As far as the Pharisees were concerned they were the absolute dregs of society. Jesus then launches into three parables that explain a truth he says elsewhere like this, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick” (Luke 5:31b NIV). The point here is that Jesus went to the ones that needed him.
I have been trying so hard to get the people in my church to reach out to the people that need the gospel this past year but they are content to sit back and enjoy the sermon. Even after I have preached something that jumps all over their feet they come up and tell me what a great sermon it was and how it really needed to be preached then go right on living their lives as if I had never said it. The best I can figure what they have actually said is, “what a great sermon the guy next to me really needed to hear it.” I don’t even know what more I can do to reach them.
Now I am surrounded even more with this idea that the people in the church don’t really need me. They are just fine in their fancy white tombs waiting to die so they can get whatever reward they might have earned earlier in life.
The question is what I should do with this information. How can I reach the people God has called us to? There are plenty of ways to try and reach people but I’m interested in something different. I want to find some way to be completely honest and totally transparent. People in America have problems with the church for so many reasons and one of the biggest is the lack of perceived honesty and transparency in the church. I really don’t know what the answer is, but I thought it would be so awesome if I could cultivate an environment where sinners wanted to be around Christians that wanted to live like Jesus. I mean Jesus was always surrounded by sinners but he didn’t seem to have to hunt them down. He didn’t need to stand on the street corners and call them in because they wanted to be around him. That is why the Pharisees were bent out of shape in Luke 15.
I doubt this is really the right way to go but I was brainstorming and came up with The Sinners’ Club. I don’t know if I’m totally into the emergent church but they do create an environment geared towards “seekers.” What if I pushed that envelope a little bit further but with a few twists?
What if I found a place that would let me setup a club of sorts. The bouncer at the door would be instructed to ask a single question, “Are you a sinner?” If someone says no they are turned away. Once the come in there would be a second question, “what is your sin?” It isn’t about recording it or anything like that. The important part is to think about what rules our life. The club would have a fun atmosphere with tables, an area for mingling and dance music. Then the service would start after a couple of hours or more. I would open with this:
We are all sinners here. I have often struggled with lust. In the past I have struggled with pornography and even now I fight for control of my eyes when I see a pretty woman. By grace I am often in control, but then I fall into pride thinking myself responsible for the control and looking at how good I am compared to others. I am a sinner and this is my sin.
I trust that everyone has had a great time and I pray that all will continue to have a wonderful time. If you feel you have been duped into joining us in the sinners club then I understand if you wish to leave. Everyone please look at the floor and close your eyes tight. Even now I am not looking around and if you wish to leave please do not feel any judgment in walking out now.
Then I would share about the love of God and how He wants us to be free from sin. I would invite them to talk with myself or other volunteers and that would be it. No long sermons just an invitation to conversation. Through the conversations I would hope that they would come to the love of Christ and if they did then I would encourage them to get into a discipleship program because Jesus was always with the sinners but he never left them in their sin. That is the amazing thing about how He worked.
Like I said this is probably way too far out for this place. I don’t know if many people would even come to the Sinners Club even if I could get a place and enough volunteers. I just feel like I need to find some way to spend more time with sinners and less time with Christians who aren’t interested in change.