As the new year unfurls and the uni semester begins, the St Michael’s church mission statement comes to the forefront of my mind: “We want to see more disciples of Jesus shining as lights in our city”. We want to welcome them better if more people are to join us.
God is a loving and welcoming God, and as we desire to love Him we seek more to live like Him. Sunday services are a great evangelistic opportunity to reach out towards those who don’t know Him at all, are just coming to know Him, or who are searching for a community of strong Christians
Attending a new church can be a very intimidating experience, most particularly for those who are new to faith. First impressions have a big impact.
Once we’ve become firmly established in a community, we stop noticing the nuances, and have an instinctual understanding of what to do. Newcomers not so. Things like where to sit, how loud to sing, whether to murmur approval, and where to go at the end of a service can be a concern.
Now that Victoria is no longer locked down, I have been searching for a church and ‘family in Christ’. I sat alone at every church I attended at the start of this year. At only one church did someone join me and show Christ’s loving and welcoming character. It is the only church to which I returned, and it is the church I am now attending.
How much harder would it have been for someone who did not already have a relationship with Jesus, or who was having a difficult week or internal struggle?
A few years ago St Michael’s reinvigorated our training and importance of welcomers, meaning that the doorway greeting was much better. But brothers and sisters, I urge you not to leave welcoming to those at the door. They cannot be with everyone. When someone new is shown to a seat alone, go to them. Talk to them. Learn about them, and perhaps at the end of the service, pray with them. On the lawn or in the hall afterwards, invite them to your group, or talk with them one on one. Nothing is more intimidating than trying to approach a large group of loudly-talking strangers.
And youth, don’t leave this to the adults. Each and every person can show the welcoming character of Christ.
We do not have to be on a roster to take on the role of a welcomer.
Help them find a seat. Show them a connect card/QR code. Walk with them to what is next. Invite them to join your conversation. Ask them if they want to join a growth group, uni bible group, youth group; and give them details. Start to live life with them.
We are comfortable in what we know. Take on some discomfort to talk to a newcomer in order that they may be comfortable.
You are in a privileged position; knowing both Christ and the nuances of St Michael’s.
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. Romans 15:7