This post is part of our "Preparing To Re-Launch as Redemption" series
The theme of welcome and hospitality is one which weaves its way through both the Old and New Testaments. As it should.
Christ himself said, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” Of course, Christ not only commended his followers for welcoming him, he lived a life intent on extending welcome to the seeker and the skeptic.
The church, as Christ’s disciples on earth, is called to do the same. In Romans 15:7, Paul instructs the church there, saying, “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” One of the primary means by which we extend the life-changing love of Christ is through welcoming individuals into our homes and, of course, our church.
As we approach the re-launch event for Redemption Presbyterian Church on Sunday, August 27th, it seems a good time to consider how we can be known as a church that welcomes well.
I think there are three key aspects to welcoming the stranger.
Greet them. As you see visitors approaching, open the door to the church, and greet them warmly with a smile and a handshake or even a hug (if you know them). Make sure to greet everyone in the family, including the children. Ask their name, and even the names of their children. This communicates not only welcome, but a desire to know them. Here’s where it gets tough - try and use their name in your reply. It helps you to remember their name and lets them know you’re listening. If you are unfamiliar with the person, ask if this is their first Sunday with us, and how they came to learn about our church.
Direct them. If they have small children, let them know about our nursery (the ages served, when it starts, and how we dismiss with blessing, etc.) and even offer to show them where it is located. Make sure they know where the welcome table is, and that there is a clip-board there where they can sign-in so that we can follow up with them. They will certainly see the sanctuary, but you can also direct them to the bulletins. Ask if they have any questions you may be able to answer about the church. If they ask something you do not know, find out.
Connect them. As you speak with them, be thinking of others in the congregation they may have something in common with. Is there someone nearby you could introduce them to who is in the same life stage, has a similar vocation, etc. Make sure that before moving on to greet others that you have introduced them to at least one other person with whom they can chat. That person, in turn, should introduce them to others as well so that they are not left to sit alone in the sanctuary. Particularly if the person is alone, offer to have them sit with you in service.
Most of us call our church, “Home.” I think that’s an excellent way to look at it! The best way to welcome a visitor to our church is to consider that we are welcoming them into our home.
When people visit a new church, they often decide how they feel about the church in the first five minutes. Fortunately, this is already one of our strong points as a body - so be encouraged that we are already doing this well! Yet, as wonderful and loving as our church is, not everyone who visits will end up calling Redemption home. However, everyone who decides to visit Redemption will experience the life-changing love of Jesus Christ through our warm and intentional welcome.
Thank you for loving each other well!
- Pastor Michael