TOP FIVE Ways a Church Can Truly Be More Welcoming; According to an Average Joe.
So I don’t think I would easily find a Pastor who would answer “No” to the question: Do you have the desire for your congregation to be a more welcoming place? Therefore, if it is a true desire of the heart of a Pastor, for a Church to be a place where everyone truly feels welcome and invited to stay, then there should be a keen focus on what the Church originally was created to be.
This is a letter to Senior Pastors, Ministers, leaders and anyone involved in the cogs and wheels of the Church. It has been an encouragement and a blessing to see many places of worship seek to intentionally be a place of welcome to all people. It’s the heart of our King. The following TOP FIVE Ways a Church Can Truly Be More Welcoming are what I have seen churches do well, are of immediate value, and have great impact in reaching far and wide.
- In all places and positions of leadership, seek God’s direction in hiring individuals who are called. These are the individuals who are not just clocking-in when they reach the building, they are on mission everyday. Those who are called to pastor (not only to preach) and minister to people are not someone who can simply take their Pastoral hat off at five ‘o clock and pluck it back on their head at nine the next morning. It’s a calling, not a job.
This is important for those working and volunteering inside the church building. The enemy wants nothing more than for you to care more about making copies than the soul that stands in front of you. Stop and try to make people feel welcomed into the Kingdom of God, be present and accessible and learn people’s stories.
Have humility. In 1 Peter 5:1-3 Peter wrote, “1 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.”
- Seek to hire and develop beyond-the-surface relationships with individuals, from different walks of life and regions of the world. Allow God to place people who He has called out, that might help you better mirror the Kingdom. Seek also to welcome volunteers who mirror the Kingdom of God. This signals to others who desire to serve that they are also welcome.
Having voices that can speak from experience, representing many walks of life (married, single, male, female, from different racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, etc.) where people serve and where decisions are made, is a gift to those who seek to reach far and wide for Jesus, within their community and beyond. Hold one another accountable. Jesus said (John 4:34-35) 34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35 Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.”
- Markers and Tone: An excerpt from Revelation 5 reads,“…because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.” Infuse these words throughout your daily language, tone, body language and countenance—as a congregation and on an individual level. All people should SEE, HEAR and FEEL the truth of this biblical foundation when encountering you and while visiting the church building: That God created all people, loves all people, and sent His one and only Son to die for all of our sins—and that everyone is invited into the Family of God.
We operate today on a global level, where someone might be hearing your or your Pastor’s sermons anywhere in the world at any given time if you are posting them on the World Wide Web. We are able to reach even further, more quickly than we have ever been able to in our world’s history. Do you have your sermons translated in other languages? ASL Interpretation? Visual Markers may include inclusiveness in those who lead and worship on-stage, in music and events, testimonies and videos used during sermons, ministry posters and flyers, banners and worship folder handouts, website pages and newsletters/magazines; all intentionally communicating to people they are invited and welcomed into the Kingdom of God; that God favors no one people group. Work to best represent not only those who are in your congregation now, but all who you wish to reach. Mirror the Kingdom, not only the zip code in which you sit. Be Kingdom-Minded. And in all areas of decision, stay Kingdom-Minded so that individuals and their families feel welcome and invited to worship, learn, grow, serve, teach, and find their gifts and role in the Kingdom of God.
- Greet people Before the Front Door. The front door is a fine place to welcome someone into the Lord’s House… but why not invite people by snail mail, the church website or in the parking lot? One congregation’s Pastor purchased large light pole banners for their parking lot, so that people could SEE from the street as they drove by, faces that represented people from all walks of life and regions of the world. Be the light on a hill, where people get curious and want to come and see. (Matthew 5:14-15)14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.”
- Make sure everyone is on the same page. Are you sure everyone understands the gospel and the great commission on an individual level, and as a Church? Are you truly in the business of leading people to Jesus? On each level, from the child who sits in Sunday school, to the seasoned Christian who sits in the front row pew, from the first day volunteer, to the Senior Pastor, all parts of the Body must have unity and function in humility as one. 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 reads, 12 “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.”
To be truly on mission together, all must first truly understand the mission. We are all flawed human beings, there are no perfect Christians or congregations, yet we are all working together on mission and have one true friend in common: Jesus. Luke 10:2-3 reads what Jesus said about the harvest and the work that needs to be done: 2 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.” There is no better time than right now to get everyone on the same page and on mission together to welcome those who seek to know God.