My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27)
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the one who invites us to follow him, Jesus Christ our Lord, amen.
We put a lot of emphasis on being a “Welcoming Church” around here and it’s a good thing to welcome friends and visitors alike. We try to have our friendliest folks watch for new people and we make sure we introduce them to at least 3 or 4 different people to help them feel comfortable. We make sure the bulletin has everything you need in order to worship instead of requiring people to shuffle back and forth in one or more hymnals. I believe we are a congregation that has hospitality as a core value and we’re good at it! Our congregation and our worship services are, and should be, a great source of pride. God has worked and continues to work mightily in our midst.
We’ve definitely got the “Welcoming” part down pat, but now I want us to think about how we can transition into becoming not just welcoming, but also a “Seeking” and “Inviting” congregation. You see being welcoming only takes you so far. Welcoming people into our midst requires them to first find us and then to become interested in what we’re doing enough that they make the supreme effort to show up at 10:30 on Sunday morning. If we’re primarily a Welcoming Church, we rely on chance circumstances to bring people to us so we can then welcome them. Do you see how passive that approach is?
When we take welcoming from passive to active you become a seeking and inviting congregation. I know, I know you’re thinking active means YOU might actually have to do something and that is exactly correct. If you agreed with my earlier statement that our Church is a place and a people that you are proud to be associated with, then why wouldn’t you want to invite others to come and follow the same Christ we find so fulfilling? When I go to a movie, even a mediocre movie, I tell at least 4 or 5 people what I thought about it. Who do you tell when you go to a movie or any other entertainment event? Now I’m not comparing Church to entertainment, but I’m sure you see the obvious analogy. How many people have you shared your Church experience, that you are so proud of, with? If you are like most Christians you have never shared your Church life and experience with anyone, much less invited them to come to Worship with you. Please don’t feel guilty, feel inspired to make a change…
So, here’s the summer challenge I have for every member of Trinity. Between now and Rally Day on August 28th tell at least 3 (three) people something about your church or the people in our congregation that makes you proud or happy or has changed your life. Then invite them to come and see for themselves. Invite them to come with you to worship or come with you to help at the FISH Pantry or invite them to come to help with Vacation Bible School. Whatever your most fulfilling aspect of this community might be, invite three people you know to come and experience that aspect with you.
I know it will be scary at first, but the more you do it, the easier it gets, I promise. May God give each of us the wisdom to discover what it is that this Church does that makes our lives better and more complete and then give us courage to share our experience with three or more friends and acquaintances. May these seeds of invitation bring a harvest of visitors so we can flex our “welcoming” muscles. May God bless each and every one of you as you spread God’s love where ever you go, amen.
In Christ’s love let’s Seek, Welcome, and Serve all,