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July 2012
Greetings

   
What happens when people who appear different visit your church? How do members greet people who may not look like them, act like them or have similar clothes as them? As many of our church communities are changing, more and more people may appear who did not grow up in our congregations but who are hungry for the Word of God. Recently I facilitated a focus group sponsored by a church to explore conversations with young adults who now live in this congregation’s community. When the question was asked, “How welcomed did you feel when visiting this church?”, one of participants stated, “It felt that members stared at me. I felt they were thinking who is she and why is her hair that color?” Now, could someone say that about your church?

 

 

As the United States turns into a multicultural society, communities are experiencing significant demographic shifts which may be pushing ushers, greeters and church leaders to seek new ways to engage and welcome neighbors. According to 2010 US Census, the United States is bigger, more foreign born, more suburban, less wedded and traditional family structures and more multiracial. One in seven new marriages include spouses of different racial backgrounds.  Welcoming people who may speak another language, come from a different style of worship or who are simply younger and less traditional in their interests may be where God has placed your ministry. How do we welcome when the neighborhood has changed?
 
Hospitality or welcoming strangers is mentioned throughout the Bible. Two examples :, Hebrews 13: 1 reminds us ”Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” Matt. 25:40 Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of my brethren you did it to me. So why do some of our new neighbors experience less than friendly welcomes when they sit in pews?
Welcome to this issue of The A-R-K Report. As I recently prepared “Engaging Changing Communities,” a workshop at the Presbyterian Women Worldwide Gathering in Florida, I am energized and excited to share ideas on ways to welcome and engage newcomers in the community.

Whether you’re on the evangelism team or in the pulpit or pew, let’s take the opportunity to share our Christian love. Let me know what you’re thinking atinfo@awesomeinsight.com

Blessings & Peace, 

Lynette Hawkins

 

Church Hospitality: 6 Tips on Welcoming in a Changing Community 

Close your eyes and imagine…that your church is viewed as one of the most welcoming communities in town.

Now… What will it take to make this dream come true? When your congregation engages in practices that help to welcome strangers who may not look, speak, smell, act or worship like you, we may be able to better live out our charge “to make disciples of all nations.”

US immigration statistics indicate foreign born population has tripled in the past 4 decades currently totaling 37 million (12% of the population.) Welcoming people who may speak another language versus English or may speak English differently because of their accents can be a great test for people in the church. Sometimes folks look strangely at people who talk with heavy accents or who may not worship or act like we do. With all of that in mind, a question to ponder, how can welcoming “different people” help to make us the church?

Whether you are an usher, deacon, greeter or elder, what can you do to create a welcoming environment for people who may appear different than you? Well I am glad you asked. Here are

6 Tips on How to Welcome When People May Appear Different

Just like fingerprints, all of us are different. However sometimes, people may appear at our doors who look and act very different from the members who are normally a part your congregation. Is your congregation prepared to greet ALL people with Christian hospitality.  Be reminded Romans 12:13 and “Practice Hospitality.”

1. Pray that you and your members  have open minds, open hearts and open doors.

2. Equip leaders and members with awareness of new languages or cultures in your community.

CLICK here to See the Remaining 6 Tips on Welcoming People Who May Appear Different

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    Have You Read Lynette’s Blogs Lately?.

     

    Lynette Hawkins shares practical ministry ideas based on Scripture, research and experiences. Her writings are based on her work in ministries and ways in which first time visitors, unchurched and others may view communication with ministry. She is an elder in her church, experienced consultant, social media enthusiast, facilitator and author. You may reach her at info@awesomeinsight.com or call (336) 854-4196.

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