How welcome plays its part
We all go to unwelcoming churches.
Are you a guest or a host in the church you attend?
Most of the people in our churches are still acting as guests – feed me pastor. It’s all about me. Was the service any good for me today? It is selfish Christianity gone stupid. I always thought worship was for God. Apparently it is all about me.
People coming to church can decide whether they will return in the first 30 seconds.
I think God is into the pew system because if you can bring your friend into church on two consecutive Sundays, he will know where to sit.
It is not a good thing calling ourselves a “welcoming church.” We are a church that is trying to improve our welcoming. How can we get better.
What does welcome look like before, during, after the service, after Sunday?
What is church in 2012? What are we inviting people to?
Religious commitment in Britain is seen as a hobby like keeping Corgis.
Is church a duty, something we are in the habit of doing?
Are we church with a better class of sinner, or a better class of sinners?
Is our church just a little club for like-minded people who happen to enjoy singing, religious emotion and sermons?
The keys to adding to the church – back to what?
Would I really want to invite my friends to this?
77% of Canadians ticked Christian in the 2001 census.
I think we are being blessed because of the work of Christians in the past. Blessings are passed on through generations. Christ claims you for his own.
I think God sees people in families. There is something about a generational line. Something is passed on in the DNA.
We need to take the confidence that 8 out 10 people you meet self-identify as Christian.
We need to be a befriending church, not just a friendly church.
Welcome is not good enough. Welcome hides fear and paralyzes people. Call it friendliness.
Can someone come to your congregation and we will make them a friend.
It takes the effort of the congregation to notice the stranger and then transform the stranger into a sister/brother.
Our church is increasingly needed as people become more and more isolated from each other.
If you accept a belief,
You reap a thought.
If you sow a thought,
You reap an attitude.
If you sow an attitude,
You reap an action.
If you sow an action,
You reap a habit.
If you sow a habit,
You reap a character.
If you sow a character,
You reap a destiny.
What are the 12 steps of kicking the habit of being an unwelcoming church?
These 12 steps have no chance of working unless we deal with the culture of unwelcome.
1. Vision – if everyone one of us invited a friend and they accepted (this is God’s bit) we would double our congregation, let’s do it! What we are told to do is set vision. Without vision, the people perish. Churches have vision, but they are so low, no one would even know if anyone has hit them.
I am setting you up to fail because I would like you to face some rejection. It is in the rejection that transformation comes. We are only called to set a vision.
The major reason for setting a goal is for what it makes of you .
Be Do Get – we all want to get a growing church – numerically and spiritually. What has to die in us. Do we need to be born again in yet another area in our lives?
2. Modelling - church leaders must get in front of their congregations and say, “I’m inviting someone to church, will you?” This is about doing that which is right.
Be the change you wish to see in others. It has to start with us. We cannot expect people in the congregation without us getting over ours.
When you say, “I’m inviting someone to church, what about you?” 80% of the people are thinking, “This doesn’t mean me”.
3. Cascading – take invitation down to a one-on-one level. Jesus did a lot of effective leadership working with smaller groups. Personally invite every member of the congregation to invite.
This is the discipleship step involving the whole of our congregation in a practical exercise.
Safety Net – if the church leader personally invites, they can always say to their friend that their church leader asked them to do it.
Church leaders should say, “Blame me. Tell your friends that the mad priest at church asked me to invite a friend.”
4. The Gift of Friendship – God has connected his people throughout the country. Normally in relationship we do what our friend asks us to do. Friendship is a spiritual thing. Some mothers with adult children say they could not invite their adult son or daughter, because they wold be coming for me. But that is the point; they are coming for us. People come because a friend has asked them to come.
Where two are gathered together in my name, I am there in the midst of them.
We don’t have elderly congregations. We have elders. There is something here, that if we can get our congregations over their fear.
5. The Power of Story – We want the stories that get people to say, “If they can do it, I can do it.”
6. We have to get radical and ask God who God has been preparing in my life to invite? Tell your congregation that, if people don’t get an impression of who they should invite, they are off the hook.
7. If there was a training evening for Back to Church Sunday, it would only last 10 seconds. In the 10 seconds we would practice the question – “Would you like to come to church with me?” – training over. If Jesus can get away with “Follow me”, why does this have to be complicated?
8 Pray – pray for courage and for the people you are going to invite.
9. Make the invitation – it is just an invitation, the answer is in God’s hands. Just ask. Practice without pressure. Practice is the key to mastering any skill.
10. Walk or drive with them to the church service. Pick them up. Don’t wait at the porch door. If you wait for them at the church, they will not show up.
11. Introduce them to your friends over coffee or food.
Between 11 and 12 you need to “Mind the gap” – now you have a second question to ask – “How did it go?” There is a second invitation going on here.
12. Assume they will come the following week. Keep asking until you hear the magic word: “No”.