I once visited a church where my husband was speaking. We arrived early, and I sat on a pew on the right side. When people came in, everyone sat on the left side. I was the only person on the right side the whole evening. A student whispered, “Who’s that person sitting on the right side?” My husband responded, “That’s my wife. She didn’t know you only sit on the left side.”
Does your church have hidden “codes” that make a person feel unwelcomed? It’s easy for church members to get accustomed to the system. We know where the classrooms are, where the bathrooms are, and where certain people sit in the worship service.
No church intentionally wants to be unwelcoming, yet churches can be perceived that way. Sometimes physical barriers such as poor signage, unclear entries, no handicapped accessibility, or poor parking can be a hindrance to newcomers. Many of these hindrances can be fixed physically or by having a welcoming team available to give directions.
At other times, we become set in the way we do things so that we don’t make space for people who are new. This can be something like an unwritten dress code, expectations of children in worship, expectations of adults in worship, and expectations of Bible knowledge.
When we read the Gospels, we see Jesus relating to a huge variety of people. He welcomed sinners, tax collectors, children, lepers, the blind, the outcasts of society, and people from different ethnic backgrounds. He answered the questions of church leaders, women, and disciples without a condescending tone.
The church is the bride of Christ and is to follow Him in welcoming people. One of the best ways to measure your church’s welcoming attitude is to survey your newcomers. Did they feel welcomed on their first, second, or third visit? Did they have physical barriers they had to overcome? Did people speak to them? Becoming a welcoming church can be as simple as becoming more like Jesus. Show others the love of Jesus and reach out to that person you do not know.
To view the short training video on this topic visit our children’s ministry website!