Something’s been really bothering me lately… 

A few weeks ago, I went to a concert in Greenville. These people in the set of box seats next to mine and I started talking with each other, and we discovered that they’d gone to my church for about a year. They’d previously attended one of the largest churches in the area and then decided to come to my church. They came for a year or so and then left, moving on to one of the other really large churches in our vicinity.

I asked them why they left — not to pry into somebody else’s business, but because I really wanted to know. These people were very open with me and didn’t mind my asking. They told me that they’d left my church because they didn’t feel welcomed there. Nobody called them when they quit coming, and that just reinforced to them the feeling that nobody cared.

They kept trying to take the blame because they had never joined a small group within the church. Sure… maybe they are partially to blame. But only partially…

It is not their responsibility to make sure others welcome them. Going up to someone in a new place and introducing yourself is a great way to meet people, but when you have to introduce yourself, that really isn’t what I’d consider being welcomed.

It is not the responsibility of the greeters who stand at each door every Sunday and say, “Hi, I’m glad you’re here!” Greeters are a great thing to have, but they should not be the only ones who tell people “good morning.”

It is not the responsibility, really of any committee or specialized group of people. When welcoming people into a church becomes a task that has to be thought out, organized and planned, and then carried out, there is something majorly wrong.

That’s not what a church is. The church is meant to be a place where people are accepted and loved, welcomed and befriended. Not because it’s somebody’s job or position to welcome them, but because we honestly want them to be at home there. The church as a whole needs to draw people in and simply love them.

Look at the church in Acts… These people truly loved each other. They were obviously a very welcoming group, because they “[enjoyed] the favor of many people.” The early church took to heart the command to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Just think if the church now applied this command in the same way…

Romans 13:8 says, “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.” We owe it to others to love them with God’s love, whether it is within the walls of a church building or anywhere else.

It’s the responsibility of my church – as a whole as well as individuals – to let them know they are welcome and loved. 

So… it’s really disturbing me to hear of people leaving because of the feeling of unwelcomeness. The couple I met at the concert are not the only ones I’ve heard expressing this. Especially lately. I don’t like what I’m hearing. And although I’ve been there for fifteen years, I have experienced a similar feeling recently…

Yeah.. so please pray for my church. Thank you so much.

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