“WELCOMING THE STRANGER”
Every week we are blessed in our worship to have a mix of both long-time members and newcomers. In fact, most weeks our worship includes people who have never been with us before—friends and relatives of church members, spiritual seekers, church shoppers. Some of our visitors have never been to church … or not for a very long time.
All are welcome, and we take pains to make our worship accessible and easy to follow. But it takes a while for us to get to know the ones who decide to stay. And as we do, how assertively do we extend the hand of friendship? Too much and it seems like we’re being pushy. Too little and it appears we don’t care.
Like all relationships, getting to know one another requires sensitivity and deftness. But most of all it requires simply that we pay attention. So first we notice if someone sits nearby who is unfamiliar to us. A smile acknowledges their presence. We notice if they are familiar with our order of service and we offer a hand if they appear lost. We make a point of passing the peace with them and then, at the conclusion of the service, inviting them to stay for coffee where we might introduce them to a few others.
Hospitality is the gift of a few, but it is the ministry of us all. So let us work together to welcome the stranger in our midst—as if it were Christ himself!