Over the past 35 years I held lay leadership positions in each church where I was a member. From small group and ministry leader to council member, these experiences have given me a unique perspective on leading a Christian community.

In that time I discovered two things.

I learned a Christian community needs to be different. The church should be the safest place in the world—a place of acceptance and care, of grace and safety.

I’ve also learned that it’s not.

Many communities say that they’re all about acceptance and caring for the least but don’t actively live it.

If we want to reflect Jesus, we need to do what he did. Did he ever send anyone away? Did he ever disrespect them? Did he ever send a terse email saying “it would be better for you and me if we parted ways”?

Would Jesus ever break up with me?

Sorry to be absurd, but church leaders do a lot of absurd things.

The last community I was part of did a series on reconciliation immediately after telling a member they were no longer part of the family (I personally believe Jesus was not part of the break-up).

This former member reached out to leadership with hope of reconciliation, but no messages were returned. The pastor, staff and much of the congregation were not willing to engage, to do the hard work. Apparently, they forgot they represented Jesus to this person. Missed opportunity at the very least. I assume that story was not a sermon illustration for the series.

The church needs to do better. If you say you follow Jesus then treat people better. All people.