Two situations have happened over the last three weeks.
I want to bring them to your attention and why it’s important.
Hang with me…

Situation #1: 
Someone came to our church two Sundays ago for the first time. From the email they sent me, they had obviously been around church culture for awhile and considered themselves a Christian. The email was short, but here is the part that stuck out,

“The person next to me smelled like alcohol. It was unbearable. How could true leaders tolerate such things happening???? I will NEVER attend your ‘gathering’ and inform every person I know about the lack of following Jesus at this place. I cannot bring myself to call it a church with those kind of people in it.”

Keep hanging with me.

Situations #2:
I was tagged in a photo on Facebook by a friend. Here is the photo –


The caption read, “These guys are ready to pierce, tattoo or mend your broken soul!! Come visit us @trilogytattooco !!” I love my shop family. Upon this being posted, a handful of people unfriended me and one decided to let me know why –

“Seriously? There is no reason for this to be on my newsfeed especially from a pastor that I’m friends with. Someone making gestures to the camera and another gentleman is making kissing faces at you. Clearly you are a poor example to them and your church. Unfriending you doesn’t begin to express how disappointed God is in people like you.”

In case you were wondering, I didn’t respond to either person.
I didn’t feel the need to.
The reason being,

I have chosen adventure over abandon.

The sentiment involved in both of the situations was basically, “You follow Jesus and shouldn’t associate with those people.”
The people who contacted me have decided abandoning those who don’t fall in line with them is better than living the adventure with them.
The assumption is I’ve compromised my beliefs.
That I don’t live like Jesus with my friends.
That somehow I’ve failed those I pastor and spend time with.
It breaks my heart.
Mostly because it completely misses the life of Jesus and his example.
He spent time with people every other “religious” person wouldn’t.
He considered them friends.
People accused him of being a liar, drunkard and cheat.
Because those were his friends and ones he spent time with.

As a Christian and pastor, I love all my friends.
My Buddhist friends.
Atheist friends.
Jewish friends.
Undecided friends.
LGBT friends.
Drunk or sober friends.
Adulterous friends.
Lying friends.
Angry friends.
Bitter friends.
Unbelieving friends.

I would never hide my friends. Never untag photos my friends post. Never ask my unbelieving friends to leave church because they spent the night getting hammered and came to church smelling like the night before. Or as another person asked, “Can you ask the people who smoke to sit someplace else, it bothers me when I come to church.” This is beyond unfortunate and really makes me sad.

To my fellow Forefronters, keep bringing your unchurched friends.
Keep bringing them in droves.
Let them know we love Jesus.
Let them know we teach the Bible.
Let them know everyone is welcome to come and learn.
Share with them we are friends with everyone.
No matter what they’ve been through or believe.

We aren’t scared of people questioning our beliefs or love for Jesus.
I’m not ashamed of my friends.
I love my friends.
I love your friends too.
Living this life out together doesn’t mean you agree with all your friends do or believe.
It simply means you are friends like Jesus was with people.
He loved everyone, even when others thought it was crazy.
And who knows, maybe they’ll ask you about this man named Jesus.
Because you chose the adventure over abandon.

P.S. – I love that our church is a welcoming place that believes God, the Bible, Jesus, and loves like he did. Thanks for letting me be a part of this. There are big things in store.