Imagine assigning yourself the task of writing an article opposing friendliness in church. Well, an editor of an old and fading Christian publication recently took on that assignment with breath-taking cynicism.

The writer attacked an earlier Group Publishing survey on the public’s opinions on the friendliness of churches. While acknowledging that the church has lost “cultural cache” in the last century, he wrote that the losses may be occurring because “too many churches strive to be perceived as friendly.”

He also wrote: “I don’t want a pastor pal—a chatty, affable, smiling, glad-handing cleric who becomes friends with everyone he meets.” He went on to opine that Jesus was “not friendly.”

Upon reading this piece, a friend of mine said, “Hmmm. #1: Love God. #2: Love others as yourself. Friendliness is a symptom of love.” Nicely said.

I’m afraid the unfriendly editor has confused the means with the end. The goal is not friendliness for friendliness’ sake. The goal is to bring people into a growing relationship with Christ. So, how do we best go about that? Will the church and its ministers see better results if we’re friendly—or unfriendly?

For me, I’ll side with Jesus, the one who said, “I no longer call you servants. Instead, I have called you friends.”