Our churches decline. Some die.
That’s what happens when we retreat. That’s what happens when we are no longer a welcoming church.
But to welcome means to go as well.
Welcoming means going. Before I conclude this book, let’s be clear on a major issue. The welcoming church is not merely a church that waits for the world to arrive at the physical address of the congregation. I do not want to leave with you the impression that the Great Commission is about waiting for people to come to us.
The welcoming church is more of an attitude or disposition. It represents the mind-set of an outward focus rather than an inward focus. It is about serving rather than being served.
Do you remember the story of Steve, the introvert who became the founding member of our church’s welcoming ministry? Well, the rest of the story is really cool.
Steve learned to be comfortable talking to guests about the church as they arrived. He learned if he focused on others, everything else fell into place.
He took that disposition outside the walls of the church facilities. He learned to have natural and easy conversations about his faith and his Lord. A lot of people listened. A lot of people decided to follow Christ.
Steve learned that people in a welcoming church have two major dispositions. First, they look beyond themselves. They are the antithesis of those members who want everything their way: the music, the facilities, the times of services, and on and on and on. Those are the self-serving members. They see church as more like a country club where they pay their dues and get their perks and privileges.
Steve represented those church members who are other-focused. They are so busy looking to the needs of others that they don’t have time to obsess over things that may not go their way. And that brings us to the second disposition.
A welcoming church is a going church. The members realize that church is not a place confined to walls, but a people determined to go. They demonstrate caring and the love of Christ in their workplaces, in their neighborhoods, in the places they shop, and in all the places where they encounter people in their communities.
Those people in the community see Christ in the welcoming church members. They decide to visit the church. And when they come to the church, they are welcomed, truly welcomed.
That’s what the Great Commission is all about.
That’s what welcoming churches are all about.
Is your church truly a welcoming church?
The answer to that question has eternal implications.
Thom S. Rainer, Becoming a Welcoming Church (Nashville, TN: B&H Books, 2018).