How do you assure individuals who resist going to church because they question the message that they think they will hear?
One local pastor is inviting all who question the church’s validity to attend an informal social meeting he has titled “The Chance.”
“This is the chance for them to ask their questions about Christ or about the church,” said Pastor Jack Bone, who will hold the first gathering at First Christian Church, 422 W. St. Louis St., next Tuesday, April 15, at 6 p.m.
“This isn’t a church service,” Bone said. “There won’t be any preaching.”
Patrons can ask any question they wish, either publicly or by emailing the pastor, who will address the question, but won’t make their name public. He will explain in the meeting how to email questions while the talks are in progress.
Bone, who is active in the community, serves as the Pacific Police Department chaplain, is a director of the Chamber of Commerce and active in the Pacific Partnership, says he knows a thing or two about the questions that people who don’t attend church harbor.
“I’m around town and even in a social setting people know I’m a pastor,” Bone said. “They ask me questions that they think are unanswerable, but I can tell you that there are answers.”
Bone, who entered the seminary at age 50 and became the First Christian Church pastor in 2007, and who recently received a master’s degree in religious education from Lincoln University in Lincoln, Ill., said he sees himself more as a teacher than a preacher.
His objective with The Chance is to create a setting to allow people to find answers.
“My job here is to say this is in my education, this is what God intended,” Bone said. “I can’t make people think different things, but I want to inform them of different things if that can help them that’s great.”
Bone recognizes that people do not always know how to state the questions that bother them.
“Nobody is completely lost, but the thought is sometimes instilled in them because they don’t look farther for truth or because society has pushed them back,” he said. “Sometimes it’s so simple that people believe if they go to church they will be judged.”
Over and over people come up to him and explain why they are not in church.
“People should be able to go into church and walk out knowing they have a relationship with God,” he said. “The Chance meeting will offer them an opportunity to explore what it means to rid themselves of doubt.
“I say to them, ‘If you have any doubts, come by and let’s talk about it.’ ”