This year we’re going to be hearing a lot about welcoming. In a seminar we recently hosted on the topic, the consultant highlighted that it’s the 15 minutes after the service that have the most impact on whether new people decide if your church is friendly or not. What this really means is that people will judge a church as ‘friendly/welcoming’ if people freely come and talk to them once the service has finished. If this is true and if welcoming people is important to us (and I think most will agree it is) then those of us who have found a home here have a significant part to play in making it happen.
This isn’t to say that we’ll all be the kind of person who boldly approach others we’ve never met to strike up a conversation. There are many ways to make people feel truly welcomed. When I first started working at CrossCulture (quite a few years ago now), I did feel lonely. This was normal, of course, since I’d left my friends and my old church and come to a place where I didn’t know anyone. A few months in, a quieter person invited me out for a meal one evening. He said, “When I first moved to Melbourne from overseas I felt lonely in the first few months. I wondered whether you might feel the same.” He was right and that act of welcoming is one I won’t forget.