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A Welcoming Church

I recently went for a walk just to look at my local churches. I suggest you do this too and notice which ones make you feel like walking in. Imagine you are at a crisis point in your life and you’re feeling vulnerable. Which church would you choose? Which one looks best to visit if you are lonely? Which one is most appealing for worship? Next Sunday, park somewhere different from usual and walk to your own meeting place. Try to look at it with fresh eyes. How do you think your ecclesial hall looks to other people?

Not everyone is aware that churches operate as community centers, providing activities for all ages.

Not everyone knows what happens in churches. Some people have never been into one and have only seen Christian services in films, where they tend to be portrayed in stereotypical ways and satirized. Not everyone is aware that churches operate as community centers, providing activities for all ages. People may not realize there is more to church than just services. It may help to ask yourself these questions:

  • Does my church building look inviting?
  • Does it have a Welcome sign on the door? Or a Welcome mat?
  • Does our signage include the languages used by members of our local community?
  • Have we clearly posted what times the church is open and what happens inside?
  • Can passers-by see photographs of the inside?
  • Do we host activities people can attend without committing to sitting through a whole service?
  • When my church is open, is the door open?
  • Is there normally someone assigned to greet visitors?
  • How do we appear welcoming if we rent, not own a hall?
  • What needs to change to make my ecclesia more welcoming?

There is a church near where I live with three words written on the doors: Worship, Friendship, Advice. The word “worship” makes it clear the building is not just a community center. It’s a church and its number one activity is to be a place for worshiping God, but the other words show it is also about people, our need for contact with others and our need for support. I really like those three words. If someone has not been to church before, their introduction to the Bible might be the moment they walk into your church. What do we need to do to emulate Paul and Barnabas who reported how they had made the church a welcoming place and, “opened the door of faith” for others (Acts 14:27)?

Carmel Page
(Sheffield, UK)

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