25% of what I say is wrong. The trouble is I don't know which 25%
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
'Gate-crashing an exclusive club': welcome to church?
How welcoming is your church. Really? Honestly? Excellent piece from our Archdeacon:
......when I'm on holiday and go to the local parish church ....on the whole my experience has been - bluntly - that we Anglicans are not very good at welcome.
I'm spoilt as an Archdeacon ... when I go to a parish usually someone has been briefed to meet me, even carry my bags and make sure I get to the vestry and know what I'm doing. When I go to church on holiday (not in this diocese of course!) my experience has been generally dismal -- collecting books from a group of people chatting to one another and no doubt thinking theirs is a very friendly church, no indication as to where to sit ... we all dread the embarrassment of being told we’re in someone else's seat ... and no one cheerily saying, ‘Good morning, welcome, are you are visitor? Good to see you…. Let me introduce you to so-and-so.’ Frankly, I wouldn't want to go back to many of them as the experience felt more like gate-crashing an exclusive club than worshipping God with my brothers and sisters in Christ.
I'm making a plea for us to look at the ministry of welcome. This is not a grand initiative to recruit new congregation members; rather it is offering simple kindness, acceptance and hospitality to another human being. It does not have to be intrusive or cringe-making. It's better to risk getting it wrong and welcoming someone who you later discover has been coming to church for 40 years, than ignoring the stranger.