The second-most-discussed item on my Facebook wall these
days--after, of course, the great spiritual-but-not religious kerfuffle of 2011--is
a video inviting people to church. It addresses several misconceptions about
church with brief yet powerful testimonies. When I first watched the video, I
immediately reposted it with a one-word comment: "Lovely." I even got teary
when I watched it (though that might be related to the fact that I very
recently gave birth). From the aesthetics to the message, the whole thing is
just impeccably done:


But an hour later, a friend posted a comment. She'd done a
little research on the National Back to Church Sunday website, and she'd
uncovered a bit of exclusivity behind all that
magnanimous inclusivity:

Churches are to be open to and
accepting of all people, offering God's love and redemption to each person
without prejudice or condemnation (John 3:16-18). However, in their efforts to
reach out, churches must take care to uphold the Word of God, and not engage in
moral compromise (Romans 12:2) or affirm any sin such as sexual immorality,
idolatry, adultery, homosexuality, stealing, greed, drunkenness, slander,
swindling (1 Corinthians 6:9-10), murder, strife, deceit, malice, gossip
(Romans 1:21-32), witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish
ambition, factions, or envy (Galatians 5:19-21).

Many of my friends who reposted the video are socially and
theologically progressive. Some serve congregations that officially welcome gay
and lesbian Christians. The organizers of Back to Church Sunday clearly prefer
that their video and companion materials not be used to invite folks to such
communities. (I assume that homosexuality is a primary focus of the statement
above; I'm not familiar with any churches that have voted to be open to and
affirming of swindling.) Likewise, leaders of progressive congregations might
be chastened to realize that the video they just shared links back to a
statement contrary to the message they wish to communicate.

But I didn't remove the video from my personal Facebook
page, or from my church's. (Yes, I was so jazzed about this thing that I posted
it to my church's Facebook page while on maternity leave.) It's just too good. It's like the milk we buy at the
local dairy. When we moved to the Chicago area, friends warned us that we
wouldn't want to drink this milk once we'd experienced one of the owner's
political campaigns.

But I've learned that if I wanted all the farmers who grow
my food to share my political convictions, I'd be pretty hungry. So I say
repost this lovely video until the cows come home.

Katherine Willis Pershey

Katherine Willis Pershey is copastor of First Congregational United Church of Christ in Appleton, Wisconsin, and author of Very Married.

All articles »