When I was in my mid 20’s, I joined a group. It was a well-intentioned, long-standing group that we ALL have heard of and shall remain nameless. They do GREAT work, both locally and nationally, in a variety of ways. When I was invited to join, I immediately thought of Groucho Marx, who said, “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member!” Touche’, Mr. Marx… touche’! I mean really…what kind of club would WANT me as a member? They must NOT have very stringent membership guidelines!
Anyway, I agreed to join. I went through the initiation process, got the secret decoder ring, and I was in like Flynn! Man oh man…time to sit back and enjoy the camaraderie! Or so I thought! What I found out (it crept up on me like saliva…slowly over a period of time!) was that, although they were GREAT at accepting new members, they really didn’t know what to do with them once them joined. The day I joined, I felt like Jimmy Cagney from White Heat, “Made it, Ma! Top of the world!” But pretty quickly after that, I was persona non grata. I don’t think anybody intentionally ignored me or made me feel unwelcome…but the end result was the same. The excitement I had initially about being part of something bigger than me waned quickly. My attendance at events became more sporadic, and eventually I fell away altogether, never again to darken their door.
I fear that the Church does that same thing all too often. We are SO excited to get new people, and we treat them as such. But THEN, they have the audacity to want to join OUR Sunday School class, or prayer group, or Bible study, or whatever. And we are…well…established in those groups. We know everyone, and we have set routines and patterns we follow in those groups, and new people…well…they just throw the washer out of balance, so to speak. And so, the excitement they had initially about being part of something bigger than them wanes quickly. Their attendance at events becomes more sporadic, and eventually they fall away altogether, never again to darken our door. (Sound familiar?)
How can we be Radically Hospitable about our Passionate Worship? How can we make new folks feel welcome, not just right up front, but on an ongoing basis? What can we do to make sure that people who visit feel welcome, that they feel they can…and want to…come back? I think it starts when we put ourselves in their place- how do WE feel when we’re the newby? And what have people done for US that made us fee; most welcome? Once we can identify that AND apply it, I think we will be on to something good! Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and stop by again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!