What if people could be “church” (the people belonging to God) with more people than they ever realized. Or maybe they already are church and don’t know it. People who include people in their lives and friendships and faith are those who change others by their inclusion. People are always changed when they belong rather than when they are excluded. It is a shame that too much energy has always been spent on in-grouping and out-grouping, deciding who measures up and who doesn’t belong. When people enjoy each other and share their lives, amazingly, they experience God in the process.
A well-known pastor, Bill Hybels, writes about “this is church”. We can borrow the term to help grasp the concept of inclusion. Picture a group of people in a local church here in Fort Collins praising God together without self-consciousness that makes them inhibited so that they all feel included and caught up in joy. This is church. Imagine a time at work when a group of people lean back and share life and laughter and are encouraged in the process. This is church. See a circle of people discussing how they could help a coworker through a hardship. This is church.
Remember the memorial service of a beloved local pastor, Ed Davis. It wasn’t just people from a single congregation that attended. It was many times that number. Pastors aren’t just there for a few in their congregation. They pastor the city.
People in the city aren’t only connected to a little group that gather in a certain building. The people of Fort Collins are connected to one another and become the church together as they live and experience God together. When people are inclusive and know God better because of it, this is church.