We are just about to change the calendar. As I write, I watched the celebrations from Australia over breakfast. It was beautiful, lots of lights over the harbour. We will celebrate this evening, by preparing to open our home tomorrow.
It’s become a tradition we look forward to – we have celebrated Christmas with our families, and we celebrate the New Year with our Church family, (and some good friends come to). Jeff has been working in the train room this year, and the bench work is looking mighty fine. I have been baking, and candy making, and planning to feed those who grace our doorway with a visit.
We have extended invitations, provide driving instructions (where necessary), cleaned house, and are making sure that everyone will feel welcome in our home. The food has been planned for a variety of dietary needs, and I will lay it out in a way that is pleasing to the eye, as well as easy to reach. The train room is being prepared so that people will catch a vision of what is to come in the empire on the lower level.
This has me thinking…we invite people to join us at our Worship service(s), tell them that they will be welcome, and then what? What do we do to prepare for the company we are expecting.
Do we say we love families, and then have nothing for the children to participate in? Do we greet at the door with a warm smile, or just hand out the bulletins? Do we use language that is hard for those who didn’t grow up in the pew to understand, or do we intentionally communicate so that all will be able to hear the Good News? Do we have traditions that are only known by those in the community, or do we assume nothing, and print the words to everything the congregation is invited to share in?
I want people to be as welcome in my church home, as I strive to make people in my own home. We have the best news in the world to celebrate, we need to make sure that everyone who come in contact with that, “gets it”. That means setting aside insider traditions, unspoken expectations, and having everything in place.
Nursery, children’s programming, colouring pages all can remove the stress for a young family in the pew. Powerpoint with the words to the songs (including the Lord’s prayer) need to be at the ready for the company who have come to meet the God we want to introduce them to. Jesus didn’t say, “Pray as you have overheard me mumble, but “Pray in this manner”. He actually taught them the model, and didn’t assume they would just catch on by listening. My New Year’s resolution this year is to remember that not everyone can read my mind (whew!!), and that I need to share what is going on inside of it…as Andy Stanley says, “Vision leaks”. I want to leak all over the place this year, as I help our families get ready for company – on a weekly basis.
For those of you who might think I’m writing with just one church in mind – I’m not really. Where I serve, we are very intentional about making people welcome (but we always need to revisit what we are doing). I have spent a lot of time being a guest in other churches over the years, and sometimes, I don’t feel very welcome. I know I always need to examine what I am doing, and my prayer is that others will too.
May your New Year’s be a blessed one, and as you prepare for guests in your home, remember to make ready our Church home for people in the same way.