Would you believe that guests have been visiting Ingleside since the first Sunday we re-opened for in-person worship last June? Certainly, people were hungry for corporate worship after shelter-in-place orders. Aren’t you glad they came?
In a larger church like Ingleside, it can be easy for a newcomer to be lost in the shuffle. One of our goals as a church is for guests to feel warmly welcomed from the moment they pull into the parking lot until the moment they drive away.
Perhaps a verse from Scripture would connect this practice theologically and put an exclamation point on the value:
“Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” (Romans 15:7, ESV)
Do you remember who you were when Christ welcomed you into his family? Were you rebellious? Callous? Lacking in conviction? Reliant on self-righteousness? We were certainly all strangers to his grace. Yet, Jesus gladly drew you in by the power of the gospel, through the agent of repentance and faith.
The word behind “welcome” in Romans 15:7 (other versions may say receive or accept) carries the connotation of Christ reaching out, extending his arm, and fully accepting you. And, that welcome we received in Christ is to be replicated as we interact in the church.
When we see a guest or newcomer and extend our hearts, hands, and minds to them we illustrate the gospel. If Romans 15:7 is true, and I believe it is, then this glorifies God.
I hear regularly that one of the defining characteristics of Ingleside is a welcoming environment. I’m so thankful for teams of leaders that provide initial handshakes to guests of our church. People on the parking team, welcome team, hospitality team, and others across our ministry do an outstanding job. However, it takes more than these key teams to provide a welcoming atmosphere. It requires an entire church committed to the principle.
In light of the gospel and for God’s glory, let’s be the welcoming church that God intends us to be.