They see people in church who are dressed nicely and seem so happy. Wrong side of the tracks Christians think that they don't measure up. This causes them to avoid committing to a church or really getting invested in it. They go to church to worship but get out as quickly as they can, hoping that they won't be noticed. Of course, the truth is that we are all broken. We've all got issues. And only God can really fix them.
Their self-deception is reinforced unintentionally by others. We get caught up in their various "care groups" or "life groups" or "worship groups" or whatever other term currently in vogue with contemporary Christian churches. These "right side of the tracks" Christians are in the middle of all of it. They are in the mainstream. They are surrounded by support and Christian friendship.
However, in today's mega-churches, people can get lost. Wrong side of the tracks Christians are especially vulnerable. They walk in the door with an open heart. But they can be made to feel unwelcome. A friend of mine joined a church a few years ago that had substituted its Sunday night service for smaller "life groups". These were smaller groups that met at church members' homes; an alternative to formal Sunday night worship. Often, they consist of families that have known each other for years. The problem, however, was that my friend never got invited to join a group. Somehow, he got lost in the administrative shuffle. It became a "by invitation only" worship meeting. Eventually, he faded away. His Christian journey was detoured by an administrative error.
American Christianity has always been concerned with outreach ministry. Frequently, it takes the form of charitable and missionary support in an undeveloped country. This is a spiritual "no-brainer" in that we help deal with that countries immediate an pressing needs- clean water, food, clothing, shelter and medical care. And there are often Christians at the forefront of these efforts. They give selflessly of their time and are personally involved in helping those less fortunate. Katie Davis, of Amazima Ministries is a perfect example of this selflessness. She takes this type of ministry to a new level. She moved to Uganda and became a foster mom to kids who need her in every possible way. Katie has clearly put her money where her mouth is. Hers is an "up close and personal" ministry.
The rest of us typically give money. I'm not knocking money. We all work hard for it and giving to charity is certainly one form of Christian sacrifice. Without money, Katie couldn't do what she does. You might be thinking, "How on earth can I do what Katie Davis does? I've got a job and a family to support. I can't simply drop everything to get "up close and personal" with people. All I can do is give money."
And that brings me to the point. You can do something. And you can do it right where you are today. All you have to do is one thing. Look around you. Look at people in your neighborhood. Look at people at work. Look at people in your church. Chances are, there are people who need help. There are probably some wrong side of the tracks Christians struggling. You can help them.
Another friend of mine became a Christian well into his forties. I'm sure that this fact alone made him feel like he was from the wrong side of the spiritual tracks. He could have easily slipped through the tracks at his church. But that isn't what happened. After his first confession of faith, the church leadership assigned him a "mentor." This mentor was a mature Christian, well along in his Christian knowledge, faith and development. My friend explained that his mentor "was available anytime, 24/7 to answer any questions and deal with any issues I might have had." This set my friend on the right path and today his faith is strong and his commitment to God is incredible.
So the next time you are in church, look around. See if you can spot a wrong side of the tracks Christian. And if you can't, they try this. Find anyone. Ask them how they are doing. Ask them about their faith walk. And then listen. You might be surprised at what you hear. And make up your mind to help others. Then do it. In big ways and small. Find people around you that you can help.
After all, that's what Jesus did.