“Dear Chattanooga,”

Its Saturday, and that means its time for Saturday Church tonight.  This is one of my favorite times of the week.  I can hardly wait to get there.  Tonight’s going to be a great night, (queue the Black Eyed Peas here) “I gotta feelin. . . tonight’s gonna be a good good night.”  Sorry, I digress.  I wish our entire city could experience the thrill of taking church to the streets.  I know, I know people gotta be home and get all prettied up for Church on Sunday, but I wish more people could experience  what we experience every Saturday night.  Its messy, it’s not polished or fancy.  Its Saturday Church.

But with that said, I’d like to offer this open invitation to Chattanooga:

Dear Chattanooga,

This is your official invitation to be our guest at RiverChurch.

We may not be a church for everybody, but we are a church for anybody. We don’t care if you’re rich or poor, red, yellow, black or white. To the family with 2.5 kids, the single person, the husband who’s been kicked out, or the wife who’s walked out, to the gay or the straight . . . we say, you are welcome here. 

We welcome the tree hugger and the granola eater. We welcome the shareholder in Krystal and Krispy Kreme. We open doors for the single mom, and the stay-at-home mom, the dad trying to find a job, and the one working way more hours than he should. 

We welcome babies, and kids, and grownups who act like kids. We say “come home” to the runaway, and “you’re free here” to the slave to a lifetime of regret. 

We welcome you if you can sing and have moves like Jagger or are like our pastor who can’t find his groove or his keys. You’re welcome here if you’re “just browsing,” just woke up, or just got out of jail. We don’t care if you’re more Christian than Billy Graham or haven’t been in church since last Christmas, or the one before that. We don’t even care if you like to eat at Chick-Fil-A.

We extend a special welcome to Democrats, Republicans, everything in between, agnostics, atheists, and the religious. We welcome those who are in recovery or still addicted. We welcome you if you’re having problems or you’re down in the dumps or if you don’t like “organized religion” because we’ve been there too.

If you blew all your offering money playing poker, you’re welcome here. We offer a special welcome to those who think the earth is flat, work too hard, don’t work, caint spell, or since grandma is in town decided you better go to church.

We welcome those who are inked, pierced, or both. We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, had religion shoved down their throat as a kid, or got lost in traffic and wound up here by mistake. We welcome tourists, seekers and doubters, bleeding hearts, anyone who needs grace, those who think they do not need grace, the grace killers, anyone who’s not okay and those who are not okay with not being okay . . . and you!

Still doubting that we might be the right church for you? We still invite you to come just once to see for yourself. We won’t chase you down afterward or guilt you in to coming back. In fact, we’ll even help you find a better fit. This city has plenty of churches to choose from.

Welcome to RiverChurch—a place where imperfect people are welcomed, a place where we embrace the un-embraced, a place you can call home. 

 

 

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Thanks to our friends at Ridge Church up in Oak Ridge for the inspiration.  Its cool to see other churches in other places who share so much of the same heart for their city.  

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