My sister came over yesterday for an impromptu play date (actually, she was out of coffee at her house and I was in possession of some very yummy Peet’s Holiday Blend), and we spent some time talking about our plans for our small group. My sister is our leader, so she had some questions for me about how I thought things went last week and some ideas for things we could do in the future.
At one point, we got into details about meeting times and spaces, and there were some different ways where the options were more or less convenient for some of us (considering kids, nap times, schedules, etc.). But, in making decisions about when and where we would meet, my sister was determined to make our gathering as accessible and appealing to a couple of individuals with some special considerations and needs. At one point in our conversations she said: “You know, we make all this extra effort to make this work for a few people when the reality is, they probably won’t even come, and then we have inconvenienced everyone else for nothing.” We both paused, and then she looked at me and said, “But that is what we have to do.” I nodded in total agreement.
In our early days as a core group, as we began to make plans for weekly worship gatherings, a woman in our group challenged us to be “fringe-centric”; to be a place where those who would naturally fall at the fringes (the homeless, the addict, the gang member, the teenage mom) would be considered central and not peripheral to our teaching, our worship, our fellowship, and our witness. She challenged us to reorient our hopes and priorities and expectations in a way that more fully revealed the heart of Jesus.
That woman left our core group a few months later for another ministry opportunity across the country, but her words haunt me, in a good way, to this day. In a world where we elevate the learned, the beautiful, the strong, and the able, is our witness as a church truly something different? Are we serious about this kind of radical reorientation Jesus commended to us? Are we able to genuinely worship and follow a lover of tax collectors and prostitutes? How different our reputation would be as Christians if we were…
I am grateful for my sister. She is helping us learn what it means to be fringecentric. She is teaching us what it means to follow Jesus.