steve ball

personal thoughts on family, faith and work

Archive for the tag “st peters”

is a good welcome enough?

Over the last few weeks I’ve heard lots about how we, as church, should be welcoming to anyone who comes through the church doors on a Sunday morning. All very right and sensible stuff. But… there’s got to be more than just a good welcome – though ensuring visitors and regulars are welcomed in church each week is very important.

Welcoming someone who doesn’t ‘fit in’ to what we think is an appropriate way to behave, dress or talk should be easy to do – after all, if they’ve never set foot inside of a church before, how are they expected to know ‘the rules’? But our prejudices nearly always affect our reaction and interaction with them. It has been said several times (by visitors!) that my church is very welcoming, which I would agree with – certainly I remember feeling very welcomed when I first came.

The church is not here to just welcome people though – it is called to love people.

It is often said about what our approach to people coming into church should be: Bless – Belong – Believe – Behave. Behaving – or somehow ‘fitting in’ is the last part of what can be a long process, which is usually not our responsibility to try and change anyway. If we want a church full of people ‘just like me’, this is possibly an approach to take – but I pray for a church as diverse as the community in which it stands. Which means loving people coming in who don’t behave, dress or talk as we do.

It strikes me that we sometimes approach the four B’s in the opposite way. We will welcome someone if they behave, and once they believe, they will belong to our church and we can bless them. Sad, but probably true for many people in many of our churches.

I would imagine that coming into a church for the first time is a pretty terrifying experience. If we analyse what we do, it’s a totally alien environment to most people! Giving them a great, warm welcome is vital, but I would imagine it would be very hard for a visitor not to be affected by the church showing them love – Gods love.

Points to ponder:

  • How accepting are you of people that are very different from you?
  • When was the last time you had a conversation with someone you didn’t know in church?
  • When was the last time you blessed someone new in the church?

discovering wisdom

While visiting my dad today, he reminded me about a couple that had gone to see him for some advice recently.  Even though he is ill, his brain is fully functioning, and people still look to him as a source of wisdom.

At our home groups we have been watching a series of  DVDs on Proverbs and wisdom.  This lead to a fascinating discussion.  I’ve always looked for people who I could go to for advice and to learn from their wisdom and experience.

Along with parents and family, I have always had three or four people who I trust and value their advice.  This, to me was quite normal.  It wasn’t until a little way through the discussion that someone said it had never crossed their mind to ‘discover’ someone (not even parents) they could go to and benefit from their wisdom – it was quite a revelation to them.

I remember meeting up with my dad over fish and chips regularly when I first started work.  We would chat about everything and nothing.  If I had any problem, I knew I could ask for his advice and he would readily give it.  I know I’m blessed to have two sets of parents who I could turn to at any time, and many people don’t have that, but there were also other people at church that I knew I could go to.

I think we have a huge wealth of wisdom in our church that we somehow need to tap into.  The question is; how do we create an environment where people (especially young people), are able to mix with others who have more life experience and – wisdom?

A solution must be, to build relationships.  House groups, or other small groups where there is a mixture of people of different ages and backgrounds are probably the best way of getting to know people.  When I first came to St Peters, top on my list was to get to the home group and join the music group. In fact, one of the people I know I could go to now was one the first people I met at the home group

Points to ponder

  • Who are the key people who I can go to and benefit from their wisdom?
  • What can I do about helping others to be able to tap into the wealth of wisdom that there is in our church

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