The Welcoming Work Of The Gospel Makes Us A Welcoming People
January and February is normally the time of year when people are visiting and looking for a church community. While visitors might enjoy the worship and be challenged by the message, it's the warmth of our relationships that makes the gospel attractive as it's personally experienced by those visiting us. Being welcoming and reaching out to newcomers whether they are believers or unbelievers is a reflection of the grace of the gospel. You only have to look at the ministry of Jesus to see how he didn’t just welcome all who came to him, he also actively sought out those who would not normally be welcomed. He welcomed and touched the contagious leper that everyone avoided to heal him (Matt.8:1-4). He welcomed the prostitute who came to him even as others around were repulsed by her (Luke 7:36-50). He went to the home of Zacchaeus the despised and corrupt tax collector and ate with him (Luke 19:1-10). In fact, Jesus himself tells us in Luke 15 through 3 parables that welcoming sinners and eating with them is at the very heart of his ministry! It’s precisely because he welcomes sinners that we’ve been welcomed and accepted at his table. We’re no longer considered foreigners and strangers, excluded and on the outside. We’ve been brought in and made members of God’s household. Because of Jesus’ work at the cross in dealing with our sin, God welcomes us with open arms into his family! (Ephesians 2:11-22)
If we’re a community gathered together by the ‘welcoming’ work of the gospel through Jesus, then it shouldn’t be a surprise that God’s people would also be a ‘welcoming’ people i.e. a people who welcome all who visit our church community and a people who are actively seeking out those who would not normally be welcomed. The work of welcoming the newcomer isn’t the work of the welcoming team or those with the gifts of welcoming, it’s actually the work of all believers in a church community who have experienced the ‘welcoming’ work of the gospel (2 Cor.8:9).
Here are some practical tips as you come each Sunday:
- Pray that God will give you a welcoming heart like Jesus and the boldness to welcome a newcomer
- Get together with someone in your community group each Sunday and actively look to speak to someone new at church to welcome them
- When you arrive at church, look for someone who's sitting by themselves and go sit with them to welcome them
- Over morning tea after morning service or after evening church look out for people who are standing by themselves and go talk to them
- Invite newcomers you've met on Sunday to join your group for lunch or dinner
- Introduce newcomers you meet to other regulars or introduce them to one of our community group leaders
If you're not sure what to say to newcomers, here are some conversation tips:
- Wish them a happy new year, welcome them to GracePoint and introduce yourself
- Ask them how they spent their Christmas and New Year
- Ask them how they came to GracePoint, what has brought them to church, and if they've been to a church before
- And if you've got someone who has never been to church before, you should ask them if anyone has ever told them what Christian's believe and whether they'd like for you or someone to explain it to them!
- Let them know that you're looking forward to seeing them again next week.
Eugene Hor - Lead English Pastor