Mike with a few of his groupies hang around outside while the service goes on inside. I've been a few weeks off and on and I have noticed this crowd outside. A mixed group who arrive for the service but are outside for the whole service then leave when it has finished.
The worship inside was in full rhythmic swing as Mike between drawing on his cigarette welcomes me. "Welcome to Laos" he proudly declares. "I am an outside Christian...", he nods to the door and says "they are inside Christians!" With a little prompting he tells me a bit of his story and that he has been 'coming' to Laos for four years since he was 16. He finishes by telling me that he doesn't need to be an 'inside Christian'.
This isn't some trendy disenfranchised churchy youth wanting to find a way out of church by playing the 'missional incarnational em. ch I'm so misunderstood' trump card. This is a young man from the Peckham area who is part of fellowship who just doesn't want to go inside. I look forward to getting to know Mike and his mates - I don't think he represents the kind suspicion of the institutional church that is well documented - I think it is simpler than that - he just doesn't want to go inside!
Perhaps he does though represent a growing sector of people who identify to a certain extent with Christianity but stop short because of what the 'I'm a Christian Banner' represents. Talking to him reminded me of Tony so publicly was impacted by the BBC TV programme The Monastery who had to sneak into churches during the week because he found the whole church on Sunday thing 'so plastic'.
So should outside Christians conform?