...I'm not very religious anymore.
That may sound strange. I'm a pastor, after all! I have to admit that, for years, I got a warm feeling in my heart every time I saw a fish on the back of a car. (Unless it was one of those Darwin thingys.) Each time I saw one, I thought, "Those are my people! They're one of US!"
I don't think that way anymore. Why? Because the natural conclusion is that everyone who isn't one of us is one of them. And the more I read the Gospels, the more I am amazed at Jesus. He seemed to live in an us and them society, too. The difference? The us of His generation constantly criticized Him for hanging around with them! I'm convinced that, if they had cars back then and two different ones stopped to offer Jesus a ride, He would have intentionally chosen the one without the fish.
Now that I have your attention, you might not be surprised at a type of conversation I occasionally have with new people at our church. It goes something like this... After a service, some one/couple/family finds me in our lobby. They smile, shake my hand and tell me their names. Often they tell me what a great service we just had and a little bit about themselves. In the course of just a few sentences, they begin to show their obvious attitude that they are insiders. They're not like those people outside the church. Usually their vocabulary is punctuated with terms that only insiders could understand.
Now don't get me wrong. I love people like that. How can I not? I was one for so long! But something changed. Now it is my responsibility to make them aware of something so that they won't be misled...
I say something like, "It seems from your background and the way that you describe yourselves that you really enjoy spending time with church people. I need to warn you that we aren't very religious in our church. We go out of our way not to use churchy language. We try to meet people where they are and every week we have people attend here who aren't sure about Christ. They don't know if they want to follow Him or if they will believe in Him. They do know that they are welcome and can come as long and often as they want and won't be considered outsiders."
In live conversation, I don't think I'm as careful with my words as in the above paragraph. I bluntly told one couple, "I don't think we're as religious as you are."
They didn't come back. I have a feeling that they are out there somewhere praying for this heathen pastor they met.
I hope so, anyway.