The Anglican church network is a large group of churches from all over the world. With over 80 million members in more than 165 countries, it is a significant and influential church community… but a very unfriendly one!
For a full year, I have been attending a church that is part of the Anglican network. But whilst this church has some of the best preaching I have ever heard it is also one of the most unwelcoming churches I have been too.
In my year of attending this church, I have encountered a peculiar phenomenon. The ministers are amiable and welcoming, but the congregation seems to have constructed an impenetrable wall of unfriendliness and cliquishness.
Despite my best efforts to engage with my fellow congregants, I have only succeeded in talking with a mere handful of individuals. The majority of the churchgoers seem content at ignoring my presence entirely, leaving me to stand alone in silence before the service begins.
It is a soul destroying experience, to say the least and I cannot help but wonder if they are more interested in preserving their exclusive social club than in expanding their spiritual community. It is quite ironic that a church that claims to follow Jesus, who was known for his love and compassion for all people, would be so unfriendly and unwelcoming. In fact, the Bible tells us to “show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2, NIV).
To add insult to injury, various sub-groups have formed within this already stratified community. There are young families who only speak to other young families, university students who refuse to engage with anyone outside of their clique, and refugees who are used as pawns by the church to signal their own virtue. This also means that Church’s events are geared solely towards these select groups, leaving everyone else out in the cold.
Rather than helping everyone, regardless of their social status, situation, wealth, or background, the Anglican church has chosen to play favorites. They have cherry-picked a select group of individuals who they believe will further their “mission,” while leaving others to fend for themselves. This is a sad state of affairs, and a far cry from what the church should be doing: serving all people, irrespective of their station in life.
As for the select few Christians I have talked too I have found them extremely unpleasant. They will look down on you and try to catch you out on anything you say. It’s like they get a kick out of making you feel small. They’ll judge you if you don’t fit into their mold of what a “good Christian” should be, but they won’t hesitate to push you aside if it means they get to look good. But let me tell you something, just because they can quote the Bible backward and forward doesn’t mean they have any real understanding of what it actually means.
And don’t even think about trying to get involved in their little social groups. If they don’t like you, they won’t invite you. Gospel groups? More like “we only want people who are just like us” groups. It’s like school all over again.
But the real kicker? The way the women in the Anglican church treat me. I’ve gotten more dirty looks from them than I can count. And I haven’t even had a real conversation with any of them. What’s up with that? Are they afraid that talking to me will make them less holy?
I know I’m not the only one who’s experienced this kind of treatment in church. It’s heartbreaking to think that people who claim to follow Jesus can be so judgmental and exclusive. But let’s not forget what the Bible says about this kind of behavior:
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” – Matthew 7:1-2 (NIV)
So let’s all take a step back and remember that we are all sinners saved by grace. We are all imperfect and in need of God’s mercy. Let’s stop trying to push each other down and instead lift each other up in love and kindness. That’s what being a true Christian is all about.
The Bible tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:31) and to show hospitality to strangers (Hebrews 13:2). Yet, the Anglican church network seems to have forgotten or worse are ignoring these teachings. How can we expect to spread the love of Christ to others if we cannot even show basic kindness and hospitality to those who walk through our doors?
This is not what Jesus intended for HIS church. He said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35, NIV).
Unfortunately, the Anglican church network has failed to show love to those who are new to the faith. Instead, they have created an environment that is hostile to newcomers. This is not only a disservice to those who are seeking to know God, but it is also a hindrance to the growth of the church.
As Christians, we are called to be the light of the world. We are called to love our neighbours as ourselves and to show compassion to those who are in need. The Anglican church network would do well to remember these important teachings from the Bible.