My wife and I recently went to the beach, and saw a strange sight.

There were four ladies standing in a circle, obviously together and doing something.  We, not being nosey, passed on by.

It’s blurred…don’t judge me for taking a “curious” pic

But I couldn’t help overhearing them talking.  And I couldn’t help noticing that it was another language, one that I didn’t understand.  I didn’t think anything about it.  My wife and I moseyed on, looking for sea glass as the sun rose.  But then I heard a little English.

Oh, look who’s here!  It’s _____.  Yeaaaaaaaah! (*said very loudly)

So apparently _____ is a popular person.  Then I heard this little diddy drop:

You guys ready?  Let’s speak some gibberish!

So…I figured out what that “foreign” language was that the ladies were speaking.  Gibberish.  Nonsense.  Unintelligible words.  They would speak this gibberish, and, from a distance, appeared to be having a perfectly normal conversation.  Then they would force laughter (it wasn’t natural…just trust me on that) that was heard all the way across the beach.

And you know when you hear people laughing, and it makes you want to laugh, too?  Yeah, this wasn’t that kind of laughter.  It was just weird.

Confession: I don’t know what they were doing.  They may have been practicing for improv.  They may have been just purely being silly.  They may be a strange cult.  I don’t know.  But as an outsider, it was strange.  Borderline creepy.

And I think that this is how many people view our local churches.  And when we don’t keep them in mind when we structure our Sunday morning experiences, we keep them at the edge.  Here’s what I was thinking when I saw the women, and what I believe outsiders think of our local churches.

Local Churches & The Gibberish People

The closer I get the weirder they’ll be.

I heard enough to know that I didn’t want to get any closer to this group.  Offer new folks the chance to see your church at a snapshot.  Make it easy for them to try community out.  Easy to serve.  Easy to test the waters.  You know that if they experience community, they’ll want more.  So make it easier to get close.

They’re really speaking another language I don’t understand.

In our churches, we have to be careful with the language we use.  Loading our services with “churchy” talk just makes people feel like we’re speaking another language.  Using normal, everyday language communicates that we value “outsiders.”

They don’t want me or need me.

This group was completely self-sufficient and satisfied without me.  Don’t let your church convey the same thing.  Having a system in place for them to plug into healthy community and service is huge.  Expose the holes you have on Sunday mornings.  Expose the holes you have in accomplishing your vision to reach your community.  And ask people to help plug in.  Most people want to know that they bring something to the table and can contribute.

I don’t have a need for that silliness.

Churches should be careful to articulate why we do what we do.  Cast the vision regularly for why you do small groups, take up the offering, serve your community, and sing songs.  Don’t leave it up to people’s imagination.  Help them understand why you do what you do.

They just care about themselves.

May this never be an attitude of our churches.  Ever.  We don’t exist for ourselves.  (Philippians 2:4)

It’s not wrong for these women to do what they were doing.  But it may be wrong for churches to adopt some of their practices.

Do you consciously think about “outsiders” when you enter the building on Sunday mornings?

How are you intentionally structuring things so that everyone feels welcomed?