Turning up at church for the first time can be a pretty daunting experience. Who will be there, will I know anyone, where do I sit, when do I sit or stand, will I be expected to talk to anyone and what will I say? These are just a few of the questions that could be running around in a person’s thinking. On top of that some people are extroverted and love speaking to others but some are shy and some find speaking to others really daunting. The good news is that God has made us all very differently.
It is a great blessing when new people come along to all of our services. Sometimes we welcome them well but sometimes we do not make it easy for them to feel part of our service. As we think of welcoming the question we should be asking ourselves is, “how can we make it easier for a new person to come along to our service, feel part of it and feel that they would like to keep coming back?”
The task of welcoming is not the responsibility of just one person or a group assigned to do it for a service but welcoming is the responsibility of all of us and whilst this is not the spot to go into the detail of what you need to do and say, I want to encourage you all to get equipped to welcome. The Equip training courses which run on March 28th is one excellent way to do this. However since it is not always easy to get to a thing like this I also want to encourage you to speak to Andrew Cromie. I would go as far to suggest that training in welcoming is something we should all do.
Our aim in welcoming is not just to say hi to people as they walk through the door of the building. It is good to speak to them and to get to know their name etc. But welcoming is much more than this. Being welcoming involves sharing ourselves with them and it involves us helping them become part of the life and ministry of the church. In other words we want to encourage people to become connected with us in the mission of serving and glorifying God. This does not happen in just a week or in a month or two but rather it is an ongoing process.
So are you willing to be part of helping us create a welcoming culture at church? That will involve the training I talked about already, but more importantly it will involve a cultural change so that on a Sunday morning or evening we come along expecting there to be new people and we come prepared to engage them in conversation both before and after the service. It will mean we get to know each other so that we can develop depth in relationship and it will mean that we notice and follow up on each other when we are away.
At one level I think we do pretty well at welcoming people but I am aware that we are not always good at welcoming in the longer term sense. Let us work together as individual services to ensure that we welcome people not just along for the Sunday but into the life of the church.