Checked at the Door

Checked at the Door

I was raised in the church. My family has a long history of church affiliation, membership, and leadership. My great-grandfather was one of the founders and associate Pastors of my childhood/family church.  The building [a remodeled version] which still stands today, is across the street from my grandmother’s house. I remember my great-grandmother sharing with me that my great-grandfather and other men in the congregation would work their jobs during the day and then worked on building the church facility during the evenings. Before the church was finished, they would have church in each other’s living room. I also recall, fond childhood memories of attending church, then going to my grandmother’s house for Sunday dinner. My childhood church is more that a building to me, it is a part of my extended family.

Yesterday, a childhood memory flooded my thoughts and I have no idea why other than, this is an awesome share! I recall one Sunday, my family was at church and my step-father attempted to enter the church but was denied entry by the two Ushers who were at the front door. To give context regarding my stepfather, he was not a regular church attendee – in fact, I cannot even say with certainty if he was a man of faith or was raised in the church. He was a high functioning alcoholic; the kind who would get drunk on Friday evenings, Saturdays and Sundays but would be sober enough to return to work on Monday mornings. Ironically, the Sunday he attempted to enter church, but was denied entry, he wasn’t drunk.

I remember us children walking home from church, crossing the street and my stepfather was sitting on my grandmother’s front porch waiting for us to return from church. One of the adults asked, “why are you sitting on the porch?” He responded, “the ladies at the door would not let me in”. My mother learned what happened and was furious. I recall there being a lot of discussion at my grandmother’s house that Sunday at our family dinner. In summation, some relatives questioned was he drunk, is that why they would not let him enter the church? My stepfather and mother made it clear that he was not drunk and my mother continued to assert that if he was, perhaps what he needed [and desired] was an encounter with God and as long as he wasn’t being disruptive, who are they to deny someone entry into the church.

As a child, I remember my feelings were hurt by the way my stepfather was treated because I knew that he was a good hardworking man, despite the fact that he was an alcoholic. From that day, until his death, I am not aware of any other time my stepfather attended or even attempted to attend any type of church service with the exception of a funeral. I wonder, “what was his impression of ‘the Church’ after he was checked at the door.” He never spoke of the incident again after we left my grandmother’s house. In fact, he never spoke about the church, God, religion or faith.

Christians, how many people have we denied entry into the house of God, because we “checked them at the door”? I mean this literally and figuratively. How many people have been hurt or offended after attending [or attempting to attend] church?




Terry Cato About Terry Cato

Terry Cato is a Talk Show Host, Author and relationship blogger. She is the Founder of Relationships 411, a blog community dedicated to healthy relationships and marriages. She is the Host of Real Talk w/Terry a Bay Area talk show focusing on relationship and lifestyle topics. Her memoir, “No Longer a Bridesmaid!” chronicles the 7 years she was single, celibate and believing God for a husband. Feel Free to Follow Terry on Twitter and visit her website for more information about the Author.


  1. Terry, your story breaks my heart. If only…Christians would act more like Christ. HE would have loved the man, and told him to “Go and sin no more.”
    And while most churches today would welcome your stepfather, I’m afraid the pendulum has swung too far the other way. Christians welcome people into their church buildings but never try to persuade them of faith. After showing the grace of Christ, when do they say, “Go and sin no more?”

  2. Linda, thank you. I still cringe sometimes when I think about it. I agree with you, church is very different now. And we must ensure that people leave better than they came.

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