In the June issue of the “Living Lutheran” magazine there is an article entitled, “Why we will no longer be a Welcoming Church.” Upon reading this title in the list of articles I was shocked. What do they mean, they will no longer be a welcoming church? Upon reading the article, though, it all made sense. Here is how the article begins.
“Like so many congregations, we’ve sunk an amazing amount of time and energy into becoming a welcoming church. We changed our worship styles, trained greeters and ushers, wore name tags, brewed coffee, went to workshops on hospitality and put our friendliest people in the most prominent places on Sunday mornings.
My congregation realized that we had been misplacing our emphasis. Welcoming, from a missional perspective, is passive. It denotes waiting for visitors and guests to drop by.
Inviting is different. Inviting is active. Being an inviting church means that we leave the comfort of Sunday morning worship and seek out our neighbors…..”
We no longer live in a day when participating in a church is popular. In fact, many churches who rely on visitors to grow their congregation, are actually declining. Once very large and active churches are struggling to survive today. But, it isn’t a matter of surviving, rather listening to our Lord’s commission to “go therefore and make disciples (followers).”
Some folks are frightened by the prospect of inviting someone to their church. Yet, if we look at helping someone with a need in their life, it can be turned into a loving and generous act. For example, if you have friends, or neighbors, looking for something positive for their children, it would be quite easy to invite them to your congregation’s youth activities. Or, if someone is sad over the loss of a loved one, invite them to attend a Bible study with you. At St. Luke it is easy to invite someone to experience the great, uplifting music of our worship services. No doubt you can think of many other instances when you could find a reason to offer an invitation.
So, the challenge we face is to become a more active, inviting church. As you have heard me say before, my friends have called St. Luke “the happy church.” Wouldn’t you wish this for people you know who do not have a church home? Come and experience the joy at my church.