A local friend of mine recently visited our international church for the first time. A teacher, and a somewhat traditional man, I was curious to see what his impressions would be. After the service I asked him about it.
“I’m amazed at all of the small children here!” he said. “You don’t see any small children at the mosque.”
“Really?” I asked. “Is that not normal?”
“No, we don’t let any children under six come. But not only are families with small children here, their children are sitting quietly and listening! This is amazing.”
In response to this, I was able to share the story with my friend of Jesus encouraging the little children to be brought to him, from Matthew 19. It was likely the first time he had ever heard it. I also assured him that the small children (such as ours) definitely do not always sit quietly. But persevering parents who aren’t afraid of giving ten thousand reminders make a big difference.
He was also amazed by the diversity. Being an international church, we have members and attendees from twenty countries or so.
“I haven’t seen anywhere like this in our city before. So many people from Asia and Africa and Europe. Look at this man! I wonder where he is from?”
My friend kept on commenting in this vein, seemingly unable to stop, eyes wide at the fascinating mosaic of human skin and culture in front of him. I just smiled. The ethnic diversity of our church family is indeed a powerful witness.
“Was there anything else you noticed? Do you have any other questions?” I asked.
“Yes, your services… are they always this long? It was very long.”
I just laughed. “Yes, it’s a little long. But I’m so glad you got to be part of it.”
Little children and people from lots of different ethnicities, all worshiping Jesus together in a very long service. Not at all a bad first introduction to the local church.