Launch Pad 14: Create a Welcoming Impression of Church

Do your friends, family, colleagues and neighbours know that they would be welcome to come to church with you? Our instinct may be to just assume that everyone knows that people would be delighted to see them if they pitched up one Sunday, to the Alpha course, or a carol service.

But we might want to check that our assumptions are realistic or if they are detached from the actual experience of our friends.

Many of our colleagues and acquaintances might be aware that we go to something called ‘church’ on a Sunday, but because they’ve had no significant contact in their lives with the church, have no inkling that it has anything to do with them. What goes on at church might be completely unknown or mysterious to them in reality.

While we think it totally obvious that the doors of the church are flung wide open to welcome outsiders and that what goes on inside those doors is reassuring and familiar, our non-Christian friends or family may have very different perceptions. If they are two or three generations removed from any meaningful contact with the church it will seem as remote, and perhaps as daunting to them as visiting a mosque, betting shop or masonic temple might to most of us!

Just think about that for a moment.

We need to begin to create what one writer called a ‘culture of invitation’ in which we constantly send out the message to everyone that the church is not just open to Christians, but open to anyone who will come. We need to be crystal clear in all that we say and do that the church is welcoming to people with questions and messed-up lives, not least because we too have questions and messed-up lives! We cannot assume that everyone knows this – so we need to tell them.

“You know you’d be welcome to come with us to church any Sunday” is a simple sentence which could produce surprising results. More often than not when I have heard this said, the reply has been, “Not at the moment, but thanks for asking.” Sometimes though, it has been the gateway to a life-changing encounter with Christ and his people.

Pray: Lord, please help remind me to tell everyone I know that they’d be welcome at church. Amen!

Previously: Launch Pad #13 The Ministry of Chocolate

Next: Launch Pad #15  Will be published soon!