[Every church is known for something. Over the next few weeks, we’re going to offer up possibilities for what Hope Brooklyn’s reputation might be around our city.]
I was on the subway yesterday. There was a large group of middle-school aged kids in matching orange shirts—a camp of some sort. I watched as a confident segment of the group stood around one of the subway poles laughing and flirting with one another, with machismo and diffidence. They were quite evidently the “cool kids”. Seated off to the side, almost forming the circumferential wall surrounding the cool kids were other orange-shirted children. And they were all, every one of them, watching the confident ones around the pole. Quietly watching them.
And in their eyes there was longing.
They wanted to be included. They wanted to stand and laugh around that pole, too, flirting and expressing confidence. But instead, by fate or personality type or both, they were the seated ones, watching and longing in silence.
And my heart went out to the quiet ones. And I thought of Hope Brooklyn.
Any church will appear from the outside to be like the confident kids around the pole; Hope Brooklyn is no exception. We love each other. We have history with meals and picnics and group outings. Our community is strong and tight-knit and will only grow stronger. We enjoy laughing and celebrating Jesus. And consequently, people are watching us and want to share in that intimacy.
And many times, unfortunately, a church’s eyes are on themselves. The circle standing around the pole is closed and the only ones who might be able to join the circle are those possessed with the self-confidence to impose their way into the conversation.
But what if Hope Brooklyn were different?
What if we had eyes that were constantly looking outside our circle? What if rather than have our backs to those seated and watching, we were constantly looking at them and inviting them to stand up and join our conversation?
What if instead of the quiet ones watching and longing for us, we had eyes that were longing for them?
What if our church community was not about the insiders, but the outsiders? And since the entire community were of one mind in this—that Hope Brooklyn is looking and longing to invite the quiet ones into our friendship—that this became constitutive to our DNA?
“Oh they’re the church who loves the outsiders. The socially different. Oh they’re the church that when a visitor shows up awkward and nervous because they’re walking into a pre-existing group of friends, little do they know, these friends’ have been waiting for them the whole time?”
The purpose of the insiders is to befriend the outsiders.
I want to be known for that. I don't want to be the cool kids who exclude. I want to be the cool kids because we include everyone.