Sunday Morning, church time. You pull up to the Church of the Barbed Wire, and it doesn’t take long to see what it’s all about. As you approach you notice the building, a small sign on the front door tells you that the Bible of choice in this house of worship is King James. A greeter opens the door to meet you. He is dressed to the nines, 3 piece suit, tie, and polished shoes. You wonder if you are underdressed wearing your nice jeans and button down shirt. As you walk through the halls to the Sanctuary you notice that everyone looks the same, white, middle class, well dressed and churched. As you sit down a couple walks up to you and lets you know that you are sitting in their seat. They let you know that since you are a visitor it would be allowed for the week, but next week they would prefer to have their place back.
The service begins. You notice that the order of worship is exactly the same as your grandmother’s church in the country. As the Music Minister leads you know the songs… they are the same ones you sang when you were a kid. You still don’t know what an Ebenezer is and you don’t think that you have ever hithered before. The Sermon had 3 points… you wonder why God organized every passage in threes. The service comes to a close, they sing their last song… a man scoots close to you and attempts to hold your hand. Men holding each other’s hands… weird.
The story may seem a bit silly for those of us who attend church, but we must always remember how odd the church culture is to outsiders.
Every church has a culture, but at the church of the barbed wire their culture has been set, and their fellowship is defined by who fits into that culture. In this church the secondary and style things have been made of first importance. This problem is not one that is just an older church problem but instead is a problem when any church young or old finds its definition in the church culture it creates. The Church of the Barbed Wire fences in all who fit in their culture, but it also fences out all who don’t belong.
The fences of the church are simple… theologically if you differ in Bible translation, escatology, and other secondary theological issues your fenced out. Clothing is another fence… if you don’t dress like we do, then you have to change your dress to match us. This can be suits and ties, and also hipster clothing. In the Church of the BW the service itself is a fence. This church will begin to make its order and style sacred, becoming a style not recognized by other generations.
God’s intent in the church is that the gospel would be the unifying factor for men of many cultures to worship God together. What happens in the church of the barbed wire is that we have placed fences up so that we keep other cultures, peoples and generations out of church so that we can worship our religion.