There have been many things that I have done so far in my short twenty-five years of life and many people who know me today would believe the adventures I have had. Except there is one thing that people do tend to be surprised. I used to be a roadie in a band.
Now mind you, it wasn’t a famous band and I didn’t go on cross country tours, but it was a real band and I travelled with them to different shows and learned how to set up and take down musical equipment and sell merchandise on occasion.
The band was the Graffiti Monkeys and it consisted of four of my good friends from my home church, Wake Forest Christian. For almost two years, I went with them to different shows and helped out anyway I could, and they always included me in the events and after show celebrations. Those were some of the best moments of my life.
However, it has taken me almost eight years to understand why being a roadie for the Graffiti Monkeys was so important in my life.
You see, I wasn’t just a random member of the group. I was someone who was welcomed and then wanted along in their journey.
Everyone wants to be welcomed, but I’m not sure we talk enough about how much people just desire to be wanted by others. It’s nice to feel welcomed but being wanted is the next step in feeling included. You can be welcomed once into a group or even many times but can still never really feel included. When you are wanted, that’s not just recognition but confirmation that the group does truly welcome you and wants you to be a part with them.
I wasn’t just a fan of the Graffiti Monkeys who was welcomed to their shows. I was a roadie who was wanted to help and celebrate before, during, and after shows.
I personally find this to be such a huge problem in many of our churches. I hear so many times from different people that the church as a whole is dying, and people keep trying to figure out a way to fix this problem.
I can’t say I know how to solve the whole problem, but I can say at least that we as the church should work on making people feel wanted when they step through our doors. This includes new people and people who have been at the church since the start. All people need to feel wanted and this means all people of different backgrounds, identities, and expressions.
There is this underlying assumption that if a person is made to feel welcomed once, then they will stick around. It’s why I believe you have church signs constantly say, “You are welcome”. But never have I seen a church sign say, “You are wanted”.
We can’t live under the “Welcome Once” assumption anymore. Instead, we need to extend our welcome into “Wanted Always”.
But how do we make people feel wanted?
Well, I would say that you do what the Graffiti Monkeys unintentionally did for me:
They invited me to all their shows.
They asked for help on certain tasks.
They invited me to celebrate either before or after concerts.
They made me feel like an important and valued member of the group, even though I was not a musician or played with them on the stage.
My lack of musical talents was not what was important. What was important is that they allowed me to use what gifts and talents I do have to be a part of the group.
There is not a limit to the gifts that can be helpful in the church. Everyone has a part to play and everyone can help serve and love our neighbors.
Ministry and life has not quota on skills and talents. There are no limitations in how people can be included into the church or any group for that matter.
So may we begin to treat people in the church like roadies: invited to help out in the service of others, feeling included in the fellowships and celebrations that occur, and embraced with the skills and gifts they were given by God.
May all people be made to feel welcomed and wanted in any group they desire to be a part of.