Sometimes we reprint articles in this space; normally, I go a few years without doing that. But we are about to kickoff our small groups program again for 2023-24 next week, and this relates so directly to what they are all about, that I felt it was worth it to revisit it again already—plus, the article itself was reprinted by the author after only a few months because it proved so popular, so I figure what’s sauce for the goose is for the gander. This is by Ken Weliever, a gospel preacher for more than a half century. You can read more of his work at ThePreahersWord.com. But more to the point, if this concept sounds appealing to you, I implore you to get involved with our small groups program. We had a massive turnout in the spring, but we envision a day when the whole church participates in it. That’s what we are doing to make this a “red door church.” BP
Nancy Kennedy, religious writer for our local Citrus County Chronicle recently wrote a column entitled “Red Door Churches” that caught my eye. Kennedy relates touring a new meeting house of a church that had red doors. She learned that traditionally and historically, dating back to the medieval day that churches had red doors. While the red door was symbolic of Jesus’ blood shed on the cross, thus reminding us of salvation in Christ, it also had a cultural significance. During times of persecution, people could seek asylum at a church that had a red door. Apparently, this was prevalent during England’s War of the Roses. A soldier on the losing side could hide in a church with a red door and his enemies would not harm him. They wouldn’t violate the red door.
Kennedy makes the point that the church ought to be a place of sanctuary. Safety. And refuge.
I’ve been thinking about “Red Door Churches” for several days. And what that means in a personal, practical sense in our congregational relationships. The Bible speaks of the Christian’s relationship in Christ’s church where we:
Accept one another (Rom. 14:1).
Care for one another (1 Cor. 12:25).
Bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2).
Through love serve one another (Gal. 5:13).
Encourage one another (1Thess. 5:17).
Show tolerance for one another (Eph. 4:2).
Comfort one another (I Thess. 4:18).
While the churches to whom these epistles were penned didn’t have red doors, in fact, they didn’t even have church buildings as we know them, they were encouraged to be “red door churches.” I wonder, are the congregations to which we belong really working to be “red door” churches? More personally, and pointedly, are we working to be “red door” Christians?
Through the years we’ve been blessed to be received warmly by the churches with whom we’ve ministered. While every preacher can recount some slight or ill-treatment, overwhelmingly our experiences have been positive, supportive, and uplifting. Yet, that’s not the case with everyone in every congregation.
We have both seen and heard of situations where brethren have not treated others with the spirit of kindness, concern, and compassion. At times, we’ve received letters or emails, from brethren who are heartbroken, describing their feelings of loneliness, indifference, and even rejection where they worship.
Most churches have a sign that says “Visitors welcomed.” Yet, sometimes visitors are ignored. Judged by their appearance. Quickly condemned for their beliefs. Viewed with suspicion. And generally made to feel uncomfortable in the assembly.
In some churches, cliques exist. Preferential treatment is given to members of means, position, or social standing. The sins of some are overlooked because of family ties. And new Christians are left on the outside looking in, never feeling a part of the fellowship.
In some places, preachers may be failing to “speak the truth in love,” being unduly harsh, or else failing to preach the Truth at all. Some pastors may be failing to shepherd the flock, and not protecting those assigned to their care. Other churches may have members who are divisive, self-willed, and spiteful. Yet, nothing is done to rebuke or discipline their sins. And the church suffers.
Hopefully, this bleak description is not widespread. But it does exist. Every preacher, pastor, and Christian should work to make their congregation a “red door” Church.
Is your church a place where…
…Hurts are healed?
…Fellowship is inclusive?
…Needs are met?
…Help is provided?
…Souls are saved?
…Hearts are mended?
…Prodigals are forgiven?
…Compassion is shown?
…Grace is extended?
…Mercy is bestowed?
…God is glorified?
…Christ is exalted?
…People are valued?
…Love is shared?
…Faith is strengthened?
…Hope is offered?
Regardless of the color of the door, the church where you worship can be a “red door” church. Now, what can you do to make it so?