It’s the one place where everyone should be greeted with open arms.
Posted in , Dec 15, 2017
Arthritis had crept into her joints and the years had caught up with her, but that didn’t stop Macie Bailey each Sunday morning. She's gone home to be with Jesus for quite a while now, but I can still see her so clearly, her white hair in a bun and a sweet smile as she made her rounds through our church.
She’d greet newcomers with “Welcome, I’m so glad to see you’uns!” as she gave them a hug. It didn’t matter if they were from low-income housing, wealthy or a big-name politician, all were made to feel welcome. I always enjoyed watching the reactions. Some would be taken aback, unused to such exuberant hospitality, but they always walked away with a smile. None of them ever left our church feeling like they hadn’t been warmly welcomed.
So you can understand why it made me so sad to read a friend’s Facebook post recently. She and her husband have moved to a new state and they’ve been trying to find a church home.
Here’s what she posted:
We've gone to this church about eight times. It's like we're ghosts. I started going to the women's Bible study. I can't imagine sitting with a new person and sharing like you do in Bible study, and not trying to connect. Every single week after the study, ladies figure out where to go to lunch. And I'm right there and not one person invites me to join them. The retreat was yesterday. A lady asked if I was going. I explained that we have one car and that Gary needed it for work. Talk about a perfect opportunity to offer to give me a ride. Nope. She walked away.
Folks, that’s so sad to me. That’s not how church should be—yet I’ve experienced it myself when I’ve been out of town and visited churches. What broke my heart was thinking about all those hungry souls—about people who were desperately searching for God’s love—who might have finally worked up their courage to go to church…and then no one spoke to them or made them feel welcome.
How to fix that? Here are 5 ways:
1) Make sure that everyone who walks through the doors will feel welcome and wanted. A simple “I’m glad you’re here, and I hope you’ll come back!” goes a long way.
2) Instead of jetting out the doors as soon as the “Amen” is uttered from the closing prayer, take a few minutes to talk to the newcomers. Invite them to Bible study. Tell them about the activities for their children.
3) Be an extension of God’s loving hands. Take a casserole, send a card or provide help as needed.
4) Ask newcomers how you can pray for them.
5) Introduce them to other church members and your staff. Help them build a community.
It takes so little to make someone feel welcome—and it takes so little for someone to feel so unwelcome that they will never enter the doors of a church again.
Every church needs a Miss Macie to make folks feel welcome. Could you be the Miss Macie for your church?