Tuesday, July 11, 2006

All Are Welcome

Yesterday I brought Nora to VBS at the Lutheran church where her friend, Luke, goes to preschool. Luke's mom and I drove into the parking lot at the same time, got out of the car and she says to me, "I'm sooooo sorry. I just noticed this morning that they needed to be pre-registered by June 20. I called and they said they have 2 preschool openings." We were there early to register anyway, so we went in hoping that we'd get the 2 openings.

Walked in. Immediately in front of us is the name tag/greeter desk. Immediately behind the desk are the doors to the gym - where the kids were gathering and would be singing. Above the door to the gym was a huge sign that said, "All Are Welcome."

We walked in and were immediately greeted by the greeter lady. She asked if we were registered and we told her that we weren't, but would like to try to register the two kids anyway. She went into a tizzy about how they are supposed to be pre-registered. Meanwhile, Ryann is pushing Georgia all over the place in her stroller, Luke's mom had gone to talk to someone else about registering the kids and this lady is yapping about there not being enough space for Nora and Luke and she would go talk to the head of VBS.

I found my friend who had been told that they would get the kids in and it wouldn't be a problem. As she was registering Luke, the Greeter came back to me and went on and on about how the leader of VBS was going to find out if it was okay if the non-registered kids could come in. I told her that my friend had worked it out with this other lady. "Oh no, the VBS leader needs to ask if there is enough space in the preschool for your kids. I don't think that is okay." I looked at her and said, "I'm just the mom - you need to go work that out with the other lady. As far as I'm concerned they're getting registered."

I don't think she knew how to respond.

Nora and Luke got in and all was good. Until we picked them up... It was mass chaos as all VBS's are when it is pick up time. As Luke's mom and I were leaving with all of our kids (she has 3 and I have 3) a VBS lady came up to us and looked rather friendly. I thought she was going to ask the kids how Bible school was and if they had a good time - she just had that look on her face. This is what she said:

"Um, He needs to leave that hat here - he can't take it home with him." That was it. Rude - totally rude.

Evidently, All are only welcome when they are pre-registered and not trying to run off with the props.

I was thoroughly disgusted by this whole situation (and if Nora hadn't asked to go back, I don't think I would have brought her back this morning). Come on - All are welcome. Really? You're really going to put that sign up and advertise that to the world and then act like that? I understand the idea behind pre-registering kids. I also understand the confusion of the first day of VBS, however, where is the christian spirit - the acceptance, the "it doesn't matter, we love you and we welcome you even if it means we have to cut a cupcake in half so you can have a snack with us"?

When are we going to REALLY walk the walk? When are we going to REALLy act like Christ? Why can't we just love each other? Why does life get in the way and we find the details and the organizational stuff more important than loving each other?


biermadoc 11:27 AM  

AMEN!!!. This is a classic case of Pharisee. All are welcome as long as they are:
1) One of us
2) Willing to jump thru the hoops to become one of us
3) Going to follow all the unwritten rules we have developed over the years to make our lives easier, regardless of how they make you feel.
I've also seen this where the leadership is truly trying to create a welcoming atmosphere but the workers(often older women)want things "just so" and end up defeating the leadership.

Melissa :) 11:53 AM  

Ugh. Well, personally, being the curt person I am, I would make a point to point out their "All Are Welcome" sign to them. Then, I would write a nice, little letter to the director. :)

Amanda 12:38 PM  

Jana, I would SOOOOO be writing a letter to 1) the VBS director AND 2) the senior pastor. Their response to you was horrible, and they are really hurting their witness (and all Christians' witness in general) by acting that way. What if you were a non-believer, bringing you kids to see what it was all about? Do they know that a 'welcome' like that can cause someone to reject Christianity altogether? Wow...I'm mad for you, and I just read about it! Write a letter, and post it so we can see! :) :) :)

Jen 2:42 PM  

Joining the choir here. . .that SUCKS! This is why so many churches don't grow. It's a "you are welcome here" BUT you must know all the songs, know when to stand up and sit down, know where you are to bring you kids (or not bring your kids), and do not dress differently!

My inlaws church claims to be a seeker church but I couldn't find the nursery cuz there were NO signs. And when I got there no one would help me check Greta in and they were annoyed that she didn't have a nametag. And we never did find the 3 yr old class so we put Amelia in the toddler nursery and prayed for the best.

Carol 3:16 PM  

I just emailed someone these words today - "If We Are the Body" by Casting Crowns. GREAT SONG!!!!

It's crowded in worship today
As she slips in
Trying to fade into the faces
The girls' teasing laughter is carrying farther than they know
Farther than they know

But if we are the Body
Why aren't His arms reaching
Why aren't His hands healing
Why aren't His words teaching
And if we are the Body
Why aren't His feet going
Why is His love not showing them there is a way
There is a way

A traveler is far away from home
He sheds his coat
And quietly sinks into the back row
The weight of their judgemental glances tells him that his chances
Are better out on the road

But if we are the Body
Why arent His arms reaching
Why arent His hands healing
Why arent His words teaching
And if we are the Body
Why arent His feet going
Why is His love not showing them there is a way

Jesus paid much too high a price
For us to pick and choose who should come
And we are the Body of Christ

Chorus (2x)
If we are the body
Why arent His arms reaching
Why arent His hands healing
Why arent His words teaching
And if we are the body
Why arent His feet going
Why is His love not showing them there is a way

Jesus is the way

mom 4:26 PM  

I always thought VBS was an outreach program as well as something for the kids to do in the summer. I would think they would expect some last minute registerers (yeah, I meant how that was typed). Did they really mean all kids are welcome that go to that church? I totally agree with Amanda, Jana. Maybe we all could help you write a letter here.

Course, you know, what I think: Who do they think they are, causing a problem with these adorable little girls? How can anyone not see how much better these little girls will make VBS.

You probably should disregard the above, tho', Grammas think that way.

JD 5:31 PM  

Carol - I love this:

Jesus paid much too high a price
For us to pick and choose who should come
And we are the Body of Christ

What a great way to articulate it - Jesus did pay way too high of a price for us to decide that someone isn't better than ourselves or someone isn't welcome or doesn't belong. Wow - doesn't our judgementalism really cheapen his sacrifice?

Mommy Brain 7:17 AM  

Are you going back?

I thnk people are just clueless sometimes. They have lived in their own little 'church bubble' for so long and no one new enters and no one really leaves. No one questions, no one thinks, it's just comfortable.

Then a new person dares to try to enter...and suddenly we are not so comfortable and they are wondering...what are you doing here...don't you know this is our "treehouse?"

I think writing a letter is a great idea but I wonder if the pastor or VBS director will even get it. Some people have no concept of what it is like to be new or visiting...because they have never ventured out of their own 'church bubble'

I loved that you said something to her though...that's awesome!

tim 9:17 AM  

Ok so you have better selfcontrol then me. I would have said a smart a** remark like " I knew that we would not be welcom here with all these christians."

Heaven Sent 1:08 PM  

Wow -- how discouraging. I totally think a letter is appropriate. Like Amanada said, a non-believer could have totally been turned off to church, to Jesus just because of some registering logisitics. Give me a break! Kudos for keeping your composure!!

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