Long ago, in another congregation, Joann and Sherry asked to meet with me about “a concern on their hearts.” Their families had recently joined the church. Their husbands were both in a men’s group I led, but I was just getting to know them.
“You know,” said Joann, “this isn’t the friendliest church we’ve ever visited.” Well, I thought to myself, this is going to be one of those challenging conversations.
“But as we’ve prayed about this,” Sherry chimed in, “we realize that instead of criticizing, we can be part of the solution.” With that I could feel the hope and energy coming into our conversation. They went on to tell me about “Suppers for Seven,” a new concept to me at that time, where the congregation signs up to be grouped together with couples and singles for a meal in someone’s home. Joann and Sherry agreed to lead the effort and thus began a very effective means of connecting new and long-term, as well as younger and “senior,” members in fellowship. Good and lasting friendships grew out of those simple mealtimes. I’ve since done this program in other congregations including Trinity.
It’s not always easy to connect at a church. Thankfully, I have heard countless people comment on the sense of warmth and welcome that they’ve experienced when first attending Trinity. But, to be candid, I have also heard people who felt that there was no effort to reach out to them. Some just didn’t come back because they didn’t feel we cared. Others had to work pretty hard to “break in” to the fellowship. I’ve even heard that dreaded word “clique” used to describe groups of people who seem to be focused on themselves and don’t make room for others.
I believe the Lord calls us to be intentional in our effort to show hospitality and value people. One way to say it is that there are two types of people in the world:
- Guests who expect to be taken care of; and
- Hosts who are committed to reaching out to others and including them in their conversation and fellowship.
Seeing myself as a host has changed the way I interact with people. When I view myself as a host, it is more natural to put others first. I take the initiative in reaching out, looking out for their welfare, and making them welcome. I don’t sit back and wait for someone to make the first effort. I take responsibility.
Let me encourage you to be a host. There are many people around you at every event eager to connect.
See you in church.