Contrast that feeling with the approach promoted by an upscale hotel chain:
"We're glad you're here." The hotel's Web site explains it's "not just being welcomed, but feeling welcome. And sometimes it is just being able to walk in, take a deep breath, and feel completely at ease. We understand. We've been there too."
People put high value on feeling welcome. The hotel knows happy guests are more likely to come back.
When God calls someone new to the doors of our congregations, how welcome do they feel? Do they feel the love that Christ said would be the hallmark of the Church (John 13:35 John 13:35By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.
American King James Version×)? Will they want to come back?
It's not easy to be welcoming. God said He called the weak of the world, and we are of many different backgrounds and personality types. It's hard for most of us to meet new people and to know what to say. In some of the smaller congregations we seldom have visitors, and we all get into our regular routines. We have responsibilities that keep us busy at church.
And too often we meet in rented halls that aren't as warm and inviting as we would wish. What can we do?
Learning From Examples
Think of the friendliest, smilingest, warmest person in your congregation, and consider how to clone him or her! What can we learn from these good examples?
The Bible urges us to love the stranger as ourselves, for we have all been there (Leviticus 19:34 Leviticus 19:34But the stranger that dwells with you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.
American King James Version×). Even more, we are encouraged to serve others as if we were doing it for Christ Himself (Matthew 25:35 Matthew 25:35For I was an hungered, and you gave me meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in:
American King James Version×).
And how can you beat Abraham's example of hospitality? Imagine if you'd been walking by his tent and had this 99-year-old man running to welcome you, running to tell his wife and then running to pick out a fat calf! (We're not necessarily recommending the exercise regimen, but the attitude is amazing!)
Welcoming Coworkers in March
What's the urgency of thinking about this now?
Recently we started a two-page newsletter pulled from United News to send to our 3,500 U.S. coworkers. We want them to be informed of how their contributions are being used. We want them to feel involved. And we want them to know they are welcome to come to Sabbath services and to fellowship with us.
We hope to run an article in the next coworker newsletter in March with the same title: "Welcome! We're Glad You Are Here!" Please pray with us that many of them will come. And pray that we will be ready for them and that they will truly feel welcome.
We're glad you're here to welcome God's guests! UN