At the One Church lunch this past Sunday, I asked, “What makes a good church?”
Of course, that question opens the door for both positive and negative experiences with church. Almost every person said something similar about their experiences with church, especially megachurches.
It was hard to break in.
Attempted breaking and entering?
It was hard to meet people and get involved.
No one in the worship service said, “Hi, my name is…” They contacted a small group leader, and the leader never contacted them back. Unmarried people had to sit at the little kids’ table. Their gifts and skills did not seem to be needed in the church’s ministries. Getting involved and experiencing any kind of community proved to be difficult.
Why is hospitality so hard?
It is human nature to gravitate toward the familiar. We like to talk to people we already know. Contacting new people feels like work. Its easy to ignore people who are too new to complain.
Unfortunately, we don’t realize how damaging this is until we are on the outside trying to break in.
How can a church uphold the value of hospitality and intentionally welcome new people?
It requires continual culture-building by the point leader. The lead pastor has to repeatedly (at least monthly) speak to the value of intentionally welcoming new people. It won’t happen by accident, and there will be a constant drift toward cliques.
A culture of hospitality must be created and maintained.
Jesus feels strongly about this.
The actual New Testament Greek word for “church” is ecclesia- “called out ones.” We gather together to worship because we have been called out by Jesus. Our identity as a church actually means that we have been sought and welcomed by Jesus. Jesus took the initiative and called out to, welcomed, us.
One Church IS and WILL BE an intentionally welcoming, hospitable church where people who are new are not expected to have to break in. It is a value that must pervade the whole church, from worship services to leadership to ministries, etc.
How difficult is it to change this damaging experience of a closed, unwelcoming church?
It starts with something like, “Hi, my name is…”