I Can Sense the Trepidation as they Share a Bit of their Story

One of the most rewarding things I do as a pastor is meet with newcomers. To hear a new friend narrate the events and experiences that have led them to Intown is such a privilege - one I’ve had quite often in recent months. 

Every conversation is different, but a fairly common theme is disenchantment and sometimes hurt arising out of a previous church experience. They have come to Portland as a “done”, fully embracing a fresh start in a city that doesn’t presume any religious affiliation. Others may have come seeking separation from a particular expression of Christianity that they find narrow and constricting but overtime begin to realize that they’re not quite done with Jesus. 

I can sense the trepidation as they share a bit of their story and wait for my reaction to gauge whether it’s safe to share more, or will they once again experience love with conditions, the dreaded raised-eyebrow that makes one feel unwanted, or the rejection that can result from questioning the unquestionable in a particular community. 

This sort of thing can be SO painful and can make one feel like a spiritual refugee. But, here they are meeting with me - a Pastor…of a Church! 

To me this conversation is a sacred moment. It’s holy ground, as sure as it was for Moses standing before the Burning Bush. While these dear souls may have been hurt in Jesus’ name it wasn’t with his permission. In fact Jesus weeps with them and hurts with them and his spirit of love hasn’t departed from them; perhaps that’s why they’ve decided to give church one more chance. 

Intown is a place for last-ditch-effort people. We want to be a safe community not because that’s what “hip” or “woke” churches are doing to stay relevant (whatever that means) in a post-Christendom world but because the God of the Bible is a god of gracious welcome.

Intown seeks to be safe because Jesus was safe. So, thanks to all of you who help to make our church such a welcoming place where it’s safe to explore, to find, and to grow in faith.