It was a large group of people — attendance hovered around 50 people or so — who came from a variety of religious and non-religious backgrounds.
At various points in the class, we discussed what about our church surprised them . . . meaning, in what ways do we as a congregation act contrary to the expectations of denomination, architecture, and location? I love jotting the surprises down, and here are the top five from the last four weeks:
1. You baptize by putting people all the way under! We’d been going to Methodist churches for 40 years and had never seen that happen before. Well . . . it is sort of biblical.
2. When I walked in the first time, I was determined not to like it. We aim to please!
3. The first time I saw you lift up the bible and explain that it is a library and not a book, I knew this was the church for me. The closest thing we have to a “weekly ritual” at Good Shepherd. I pray it is a weekly theological statement of who we are and what we are about.
4. You all acknowledge that there are skeptics in the congregation. We honestly, genuinely believe there is no better place skeptics and cynics could spend some time on Sunday morning.
5. I’d never been to a church with so many different kinds of people before. Tremendous! Because you better get used to it . . . according to Revelation 7:9, that’s what we’ll be doing and who we’ll be doing it with for all of eternity:
9 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.