Looking for a church isn’t easy. Being in a new state is hard enough, but not having a church home can be overwhelming. But as we’ve looked, Sean and I created a mental list of what we were looking for:
- Gospel-centered preaching and teaching
- multi-generational church
- between 100 to 800 members
- feels like home/comfortable
- welcoming members
As we have been searching, Sean and I have found that the last point makes all the difference in our view of the church. It doesn’t trump being Gospel-centered, but if we feel welcomed and that the current church members are excited to have us visiting, then we are going to feel at home in that church no matter what else it offers.
But it got me thinking about something. Being a welcoming member means two things:
1.You have to be willing to step outside your comfort zone.
Maybe you are great at meeting new people. For me, I become incredibly shy and awkward during the welcome time at church. I want to say hello to everyone, but I don’t know where to start other than the people sitting right around me.
But what impacts you more, someone how sees you from across the room and runs over to welcome you or someone who is already sitting next to you? Hopefully, both welcome you, but I am more impressed with the member who comes from across the sanctuary just to shake my hand, ask my name and say, “I’m so glad you’re here today.”
I need to work to be more welcoming. But I have a suspicion that several of you do, too. Let’s work on that together. I do not want to be the reason that someone leaves my church feeling ignored, unnoticed or not wanted.
2. You have to know who your fellow members are in the congregation.
This is big. Think about it. If you don’t go out of your way to get to know and say hi to the regular attending members in your church, how will you know who the guests are? And how will you know what to tell them about your church body?
Visiting churches it has been incredibly obvious which congregations know each other well and which ones don’t. Frankly, that is a huge weakness in any church. Yes, I want a multi-generational church, but more than that I want a united church. I want a church that will miss me when I’m not there and can call me by name when I am there.
This takes the courage of the first point, but really drives home welcoming visitors. It’s nice to be welcomed at the front door, but it’s even better to know you’re wanted inside the sanctuary, too. If you’re shy like me, start by meeting those who sit by you, in front, behind and beside. But once you know their names let’s work on meeting the rest of our congregations.
Together we can work to unite the body of Christ and welcome new people into His church.
- Pray for friends. Pray that God would bring intentional, deep, life-long relationships our way. Sean and I have noticed that one of the hardest parts about moving is not being with our lifelong, best friends or getting to celebrate with them when they accomplish something mighty or getting to hang out with them when they have a big life change. So pray for friends.
- Pray for jobs. Pray that God would open doors for jobs, doors He wants us to go through and that He would close all others. Sean and I have applied, interviewed and begun the difficult waiting process. God has certainly provided in many ways financially, but we also see the importance of a routine that work brings.
- Pray for wisdom. Pray that God would not just grant us more knowledge about His Word, but that He would give us a deeper wisdom and love for Him. Pray that our studies will be glorifying and will equip us to share about God.