Richard Wurmbrand, leader of the “Underground Church” in 20th Century Communist Europe, is well known, and not just to his own Romanian people. His life of Christian faith is an encouragement to all who are persecuted, to all who go through trials and tribulations of every kind. We can learn much from his book, Tortured For Christ, 1967, Hayfield Publishing company.
Born a Jew, but a confirmed atheist by age 14, Richard Wurmbrand was still attracted to churches. He writes:
“I found it hard to pass near a church and not to enter it. However I never understood what was happening in these churches ….. I was very sure that there is no God ….. but I would have liked very much to know that a loving heart existed somewhere in the centre of this universe ….. I had longed that there should be somewhere a loving heart beating for me too.”
- How cool would it be that our churches possess an irresistible magnetism, even for atheists! If we could just get to that place where something in our speech or behaviour would attract and not repel. In one church I pastored, at a congregational meeting, an excellent leader, recently new to the fellowship, stood up and said “With all of you fighting like this, I don’t want to be around here anymore.”
- Never assume that what we do in our churches – our rituals, our liturgy, our language – is making sense to our guests. What we take for granted can be as confusing as a Latin Mass. Do not use outdated, denominationally distinctive vocabulary. Design with the newcomer in mind. Explain. Keep it simple.
- Is there anything more basic than the need to know that we are loved? This means that our churches must be places of grace. May our love for others be our badge, our nametag. “For God so loved the world” (John 3:16) must be said about the people of God as well.