Warm Welcome for Wary People

Warm Welcome for Wary People

“Welcome!”  This is the greeting we received today, as we walked our youngest child into her kindergarten classroom to meet her teacher for the first time.  As we looked around the room at parents and children, we were impressed by the warm welcome given to wary students, as they entered this strange room ready to embark on the beginning of many years of first days of school.  From the name tags on the tables, to the personalized cubbies, to the packets left for each child, everything in the classroom communicated, “Welcome!  We’ve been expecting you, and we’re glad you’re here.”  By the time we left, our daughter felt so comfortable and welcomed, she gave her teacher a giant hug, joyfully declaring, “See you Tuesday!”

All of us know the feeling of walking into unfamiliar territory for the first time.  Whether it’s a new classroom, job, city or neighborhood, we have all experienced the wary feeling of being a stranger, wondering if we will be accepted, welcomed and embraced.  This is especially true in the local church, where relationships among members are tight and where the language and culture may be unfamiliar.  This is why those who belong to a church must make intentional steps to communicate, “Welcome! We’ve been expecting you, and we’re glad you’re here.”  But where does this begin?

In Romans 15:7, the Apostle Paul exhorts the church, “Welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”  We are the lonely, isolated, wary stranger warmly embraced by Christ, who Himself experienced what it was like to be unaccepted and counted as a stranger in the very world He made.  When we realize that we have been accepted by Christ, we then have the motivation and freedom to welcome others for the glory of God!

Because we are a welcomed people, we want to open the doors wide for neighbors, family and friends, some who are wary of how they might be accepted in the gathering of a church, by stepping outside the walls of our building and throwing a party for our community that communicates, “Welcome!  We’ve been expecting you, and we’re glad you’re here.”

On Sunday, September 9, Calvary will once again host “Neighbor Sunday,” complete with a community party from 12:30-3:30pm.  This is an opportunity for all who call Calvary their home, to open wide the doors and extend an invitation to their neighbors, family, friends, and perhaps even the stranger who becomes an acquaintance across the checkout counter at their local grocer.

Calvary family, consider whom the Lord has put in your path that you might invite to experience the welcome of Christ to the glory of God.  Church consultant and president of Lifeway Books, Thom Rainer says, “People will likely accept your invitation to church if you already have a relationship with them and offer to walk in/arrive with them.”  With whom have you built or are beginning to build these relationships?  To whom will we communicate, “Welcome! We’ve been expecting you, and we’re glad you’re here”?