Monday, November 30, 2015

A Warm Welcome

   Every church says they're friendly.  Our notice in the local newspaper says "a warm welcome awaits you." Everyone welcome is a standard line in church notices. Yet most of us have had experiences like the one pictured here.
  I once visited a church where the front door was locked.  There was no sign on it but "everyone knew" to use the door off the parking lot.  When we finally got inside we were frazzled.  The greeter didn't help when she announced, "Oh, we haven't used that door in years."

   I've also been in churches where I felt like I was a trophy to be won, with dozens of strangers rushing at me and insisting I join every sub-group in the congregation on my first visit.
True hospitality is open and welcoming without being pushy.  Sometimes it's hard to find the right balance.  An invitation to coffee hour after the service is a good place to start.  Friendship coffee is an excellent next step.  As the poster says, this is an opportunity to engage with other members of the congregation, to share your stories and your news, to exchange ideas and enjoy a cup of coffee in the process.  Real friendships often start over a cup of coffee, where we discover common interests, a kindred spirit and a shared belief.
   I'm happy to report that in my search of "unfriendly church" stories, I didn't find any that fit SPPC.  In fact, I was privileged to hear a testimonial by a newer member of our congregation, affirming the genuine warmth and welcome she found at SPPC. 
  22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness(hospitality), goodness, faithfulness.  Thanks be to God.

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