Amanda and I went to IKEA recently to buy a sofa table for our living room. As we were shopping, and this might sound weird, I thought that there were definitely some things that churches can learn from IKEA. This idea struck me so intensely that I told Amanda on the spot that I was going to write a new blog post all about this. But, much like if you come up with an idea for a new invention, you need to check out if there is anyone who already had the same idea.
Apparently there is a whole slew of people out in the blogosphere who have had the same thought. IKEA has got it right!
So I began reading some of the posts and they make some great points. But no one else's blog really touched on the thing that really hit me so directly while we walked past all that strangely named furniture.
People from every nationality, every background, every color, everyone, and I mean everyone is welcome at IKEA. While shopping we saw men, women, and children of all shapes, sizes and colors. We passed Caucasians and African Americans looking for new bedroom furniture. We passed Hasidic Jews and Muslims looking to update their bathroom. We passed families speaking Spanish and Russian deciding on which couch to buy. It didn't matter if you were fit & trim or overweight, tall or short, extrovert or introvert. You knew that you could go in and find a piece of furniture you loved.
Any yet with the incredible diversity that exists at IKEA, they never stop being the crazy-awesome Swedish furniture makers that they are.
When you read the label on the couch that you are looking to buy, the tag will probably have more umlauts than you can count. Swedish? Survey says, yes! When you walk into the food court (which if you haven't been there, go now... I'll wait till you get back......) you can have some of the best Swedish meatballs this side of the Atlantic, pickled salmon Lox, and lingonberry juice. Swedish? You bet!
Churches need to be welcoming to everyone, because we have something to offer to everyone. However just because we invite people from every background into our churches and into our lives, that doesn't mean that we should compromise who we are as Christians or what we believe.
In America (and much of Europe) many people have a negative (or very negative) view of churches. But when you ask those same people about Jesus Christ, most have very favorable reactions. The Swedish-ness of IKEA is a huge part of the appeal. The same principle applies in our churches. Christ and our Christlike-ness should be enticing people into our churches. If we are not seeing healthy growth in our Churches and in our own lives maybe we aren't living our lives like Christ lived.
So, Christians, live like IKEA. Be who God has made you to be and call others to join you on your journey!