Visitors < Guests
A few weeks ago I shared one of those e-mails that, as a pastor, I hate to receive. You may recall that it didn’t criticize my theological perspective in a Sunday morning sermon or a recent leadership decision, but rather, candidly revealed how the e-mail’s author had not been warmly welcomed as our guest.
Just as it was a difficult e-mail for me to receive, it was a difficult Pastor’s Note for you to read. My purpose in sharing that message was to hold up a mirror to ourselves, in hopes that it might challenge us to think critically about our attitudes toward one another - and especially guests on our campus that we don’t know.
I went on to invite you to our Welcoming Training on Saturday, September 19th in the Round Room. As the time approached, however, we had to move this training to Zirbel Hall as over 25 people had signed up! Then, that Saturday morning, 45 people arrived! Over 13% of our Covenant Partners offered their Saturday morning to learn how best to welcome guests onto our campus!
Words cannot express the excitement - joy, even - that I felt, learning alongside so many members of our church. (I know that many were unable to attend, so we hope to offer similar training opportunities in the future.)
Then, last Sunday, following our worship gatherings, I dared us to spent 2 or 3 minutes saying hello to someone we didn’t know. And you took me up on it! Thank you for your willingness to step out of your comfort zone. I met fellow worshippers whom I had never before had the opportunity to meet - I trust you did too.
Then, at our Wednesday Night Worship - before children’s, middle school and small group opportunities - new families were worshipping together and getting connected.
In all this, I am reminded of last Sunday’s text in Ephesians: "I have not stopped giving thanks for you.” Thank you for being open to learning, to trying new things, to inviting your friends! Let’s continue learning, trying new things, and inviting our friends to join the family!
A couple quick things from welcoming training that I’d like us all to know: We often refer to those worshipping with us for the first time as “visitors.” Find a red pen and strike that word from your vocabulary. Instead, they are our “guests”! Circle that a few times! Just like inviting someone over to your home: They aren’t visitors in your home, they’re your guests! And if those who’ve joined us for the first time are guests, then may we be “hosts”!
And may we continue to learn how to be the best hosts we can, constantly looking for new ways to welcome one another home, into the household and family of God!
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