When someone new comes into my home, they do not know how my home operates. They are not a part of my family, and so simple behaviors like taking off your shoes at the door may be assumed, but are not known with certainty. My guidance, patience, and clarification of behavioral morés help them feel more acclimated to my home. Having invited them, I want them to acclimate quickly and feel comfortable in the culture of my home they are not familiar with.
In local church ministry, when a guest walks through the front door it is pretty clear they are new because of the bewildered look on their face as they check for signs, friendly faces, and anything else that will provide them insight. They are looking to acclimate to the culture they have stepped into.
Culture is a pattern of basic assumptions learned by a group for external adaptation and internal integration taught to new members in order to belong (Schein, 2010). Key to this definition is its inclination to patterning and integration as a foundational function of the culture, however, assuming outsiders coming in do not belong violates this primary function.
What Paul teaches us in his cross cultural ministry journeys, is that the Kingdom of God has no boundaries of belonging (Col. 3:5-11), and a foundational part of Paul’s mission was to embrace and include all who would themselves to be a part. Paul didn’t disqualify anyone from the message of the Gospel, but rather allowed others to exclude themselves (Acts 17: 32-4).
As a local ministry, if we make the distinction outsiders don’t belong, regardless of the baggage they may or may not be carrying, we reveal a low level of inclusion on our part, and a lack of initiative to include and acclimate them. This is countercultural to the Kingdom of God.
Schein, E. H. (2010). Organizational culture and leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.