Welcome has many uses.
- Verb: We welcome others by helping each to feel at home when they are not at home, as Christ does us.
- Noun: A cordial welcome to come be with us in church is a step toward coming and being with Jesus himself.
- Adjective: And upon feeling at home with love from God and us, a most welcome response is to share that love with others.
Nearly every church thinks it is friendly and accepting of others, when in reality, few regularly exhibit pleasant, welcoming practices. God’s house is to be a place where love is dispersed among and dispensed through the family of God within. Many churches need to take on a different aroma of welcome and love that clings to all who enter—and God wants the fragrance to last.
...take on a different aroma of welcome and love that clings to all who enter—and God wants the fragrance to last.
Come experience God’s love
It is an exercise in futility to sing, teach, and preach about a God of love if our places of worship are not settings that say to all people, “Welcome. Come experience God’s love.” While we tend to love and care for each other in our congregations, we need to focus on those who are not part of a church family. We must continually evaluate whether outsiders feel welcome in our churches.
Cindy, Bruce, and their family were new in the community. Hoping to rebuild their lives, they realized that being in God’s house with God’s people was an important part of the foundation. Many attempts to find a promising church had failed. And when they drove into the parking lot of the big yellow-brick church, they were not excited.
But after entering the building, their spirits began to rise. Several people greeted them with wholehearted acceptance. Cindy and Bruce felt God’s presence; God had embraced them. Within a very few minutes, their eyes met and said, “This is it!” The welcome they had received helped them sense they were home.
“This is it!” The welcome they had received helped them sense they were home.
An intentional welcome plan
Churches that represent the body of Christ should pull out all the stops to establish an operative ministry of inclusion. All people are to receive a warm welcome and to feel at home. This will not happen effectively and consistently without an intentional plan and trained persons in place. Whether folks come on their own initiative as visitors, are brought by someone as guests, or are members who have been absent or disconnected for some time, they are to be and feel wanted. Aware that others want them there is affirmation that God wants them there.
Even though personalities differ, there is to be a perception of connecting to a family. Almost everyone responds well to a friendly welcome. Even people who want to preserve their space like to feel that others are mindful of their presence. However, there are limits to how much welcome people appreciate. Some are overwhelmed if they are greeted with too much exuberance. A greeting is pleasant only if it puts the person at ease.
Learning and applying gentle ways to approach and relate to people will help to determine their comfort level. We relate differently with each member of our own families. We must be prepared to do so with anyone who is or may become a partner in our church families.
Aware that others want them there is affirmation that God wants them there.
To present God’s kind of welcome, we must upgrade our hospitality quotient. As people of God, we are to “honor God by accepting each other, as Christ has accepted you” (Romans 15:7 CEV) The pinnacle is reached when we welcome each person as if they were Christ!