A couple of times throughout the day, I’ll pull out my phone and scroll through my personalized Reddit feed. For the most part, it’s a mixed bag that includes discussions about my hobbies and interests, legitimate news, nonsensical news, dogs, and memes. As I was scrolling yesterday, I came across and article that got my attention. It was from one of my nonsensical news sources, one that contains stories that seem to crazy to even end up in The Onion (appropriately named r/nottheonion). The article was titled “Real pastor holds church in VR, baptises anime girl.”
Yep, you read that right. A virtual reality baptism. If it sounds wild, then you should see the video of it. While I’ll leave the discussion on the validity of a virtual baptism to those who are more theologically inclined than I am, I will say that I applaud the intentions behind it. The pastor of VR Church mentions that he started it in part to “allow disadvantaged people – from folks in wheelchairs to recovering drug addicts – to attend church without the judgement that sometimes comes from traditional congregations.”
While MPC may not dive into virtual church or baptisms, I think the principle of trying to lessen the feeling of judgement at church is one we can all get on board with. When I’m at church, I sit in the back pew. From there, I can see the kids who are in church. I can see them playing or drawing in their seat. I can see them start to argue with their siblings. And I can see the look on their parent’s face when they aren’t behaving. Now I’m not a parent, but I can imagine that scenario comes with a perceived feeling of judgement.
I don’t want our families to feel that way. I want them to know that when they come to church, they are coming to a place that celebrates their family and welcomes their children. Last week, we introduced coloring posters in the front of the sanctuary as a way to encourage children to get up, move around a little, and be active and visible participants in the worship service. Our hope is that this becomes a way to normalize children in church, similar to how Praygrounds do in many congregations across the country.
What ways can you think of that our church can help people feel more welcome? Let me know by commenting below, and let’s work together on building a church that becomes a physical safe space for all.