A medically retired Lutheran minister has an excellent site, The Gospel of Barney.

One of his recent posts asks if we are looking for trouble. He replies that he certainly is and that, similarly, trouble has been seeking him for much of his life.

The crux of his discourse revolves around our Lord’s looking for trouble by associating with sinners and making His ministry all about them, not the self-righteous, soi-disant nice people.

Furthermore, Barney says that if we want to imitate Christ in this respect, we need to go — as He did — to the places sinners frequent if we want to share the Good News with them.

Please take a few minutes to read Barney’s advice in full. He is witty and engaging.

For now, here’s a taster (emphases in the original, the one in purple mine):

Notice Jesus never had an attentive or receptive audience in the synagogues. He went out to the highways and byways ate with tax collectors and sinners!

We want them to come to our nice churches, for a put-down? Why don’t we try going where they are? I’ve been in many a bar in many a rural town, even without my clerical collar, it usually slowed conversation or muted it a lot! Just because of what I represented.

Mind you the bars in rural towns are more often than not the restaurant too, so a lot of your members are there. I’ve been known to have a couple beers, and enjoy.
Knew the owners of the bar never worried about it! Save the fact there were a number in there I should have known better!

Folks need a refuge in times of trouble. We need to examine ourselves as to why the folks with the most troubles are not coming! It usually takes 7 invitations or connections from a congregation to get someone in the door.

Churches all say, “We are a welcoming and friendly place!” To each other, yes, the test is do we go looking for trouble to invite it in? …

Barney ministers in and to rural areas in the northwestern part of the United States. He counsels pastors from this region. Those who wish to contact him can do so via his blog.

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