It is good for churches to be welcoming. We represent, after all, a Saviour who said ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.’ (Matt 11:28). And we can legitimately say that we represent a city which has a welcome sign at its entrance. I take this imagery from Hebrews 12:22-24 where we read:
But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
This passage tells about our coming to God in the heavenly city on the basis of the blood shed by jesus our Saviour. It is all about joy and welcome.
But are our churches welcoming? One thing I want to think about here is churches with welcoming teams. Is it the case that churches with welcoming teams are actually not very welcoming? Is it the case that welcoming teams actually make a church less inclined to be collectively involved in welcoming people.
Why do I say this? I feel what happens is that the congregation, in general, leave everything to the welcoming team. After all they are the welcoming team and they should be doing the welcoming. So others conclude “I need not bother, I will just go and talk to my mates.” I also wonder if having allocated welcomers can make the process of welcome somewhat artificial as well. After all a “welcomer” must welcome and there can end up being something of a contrivance about it all.
Let us be welcoming churches then. But this is a duty for all of us; not just the welcoming team. In fact, should we think about getting rid of the whole idea of “welcoming teams”?