What Does it Mean to be Outward-Faced?
One of our core values as a church is that we want to be outward-faced. It’s the biblical (and Gospel) practice of hospitality. This means that we want to work, think, speak and act as if outsiders are genuinely welcome with us. After all, if you see yourself as a Christian, how did all of us start? We were outsiders worthy of condemnation and death. But God welcomed us in Jesus (see Luke 15:1-2).
Why does this matter? Because subtly, churches over the past few centuries have settled into habits and assumptions that are tribal. “Church is for Christians.” It’s the habit of lazy thinking where we treat “church” as something that is ours, and it’s comfortable – the place I go where I belong but I don’t have to work.
But God sacrificed to get even me into His home and family. So it makes sense that we would sacrifice to get even others (who are just like us) in as well. When the Apostle Paul wrote the Corinthian believers he chastened them for their lack of love. 1 Corinthians 13, the “love chapter,” was not just theory on love; it was a stinging rebuke for what the Corinthian believers were not doing compared with what Jesus has done toward us! Paul instructed them about even how they were behaving in worship (in 1 Corinthians 14). When he appealed to how confusing or hurtful their conduct could be to outsiders or unbelievers in their midst, it implies that unbelievers were there – in worship with them – and Paul cared about them.
So it’s something we want to keep in mind in our worship. This is why our dress code from our start has been casual. It’s why we have contemporary music that is accessible to kids and non-Christians. And it’s why we want to work to be hospitable.
Which gets to the practice that every introvert in our church dreads: our time of greeting in worship… Psychology Today estimates that introverts make up one quarter to over a third of the population, but hospitality does not mean extroversion. It simply means kindness and a little initiative. We have greeting in worship partly because we have to move over 100 children out of the sanctuary, and it’s an awkward interruption of our service. But in that gap there is something that many people have asked for over the years – that we greet one another. It’s actually an ancient Christian practice. But I ask just this: if you didn’t think about you, and you just scanned around you for someone that you don’t know, could you just say, “Hello” and offer your name? That alone could be profound for someone who is new, nervous, or self-conscious. This is about love. Let’s follow Jesus and be outward-faced.
Things to pray for:
– Wonder. Praise the LORD for His mercy to save people like us. Worship Him for His sacrifice to gather us into His home and family by the Gospel.
– Gratitude. Give thanks for how the has love you. And ask the Holy Spirit to bear in you love for others as He has loved you when you did not deserve a place in His Kingdom.
– Courage. Ask the Lord to help you to think of others – especially outsiders – more than you think of yourself. Pray for wisdom in how to do this more and more.
– Vision. Ask the Father to give you eyes to see and ears to hear how Christians look and sound to those who do not yet trust in Jesus. And then pray that He would make us gracious, kind and outward-faced.
Tim Rice, Lead Pastor & Director of Church Planting