You are Welcome

My church no longer hands a bulletin or weekly newsletter at the door on Sundays.  For most of my Christian life I have walked into church with one in my hand.  A year or 2 ago my church printed a monthly bulletin which they would give out on the first Sunday of the month, and have with them to give out if someone didn’t get one for the rest of the month.  It produced this sort of stand off.

Most Sundays you would walk up to the usher and they would look at you as if to say, “Weren’t you here last week?  You should already have one of these.  They cost money to print you know.  If you put your hand out I will give you one, but it all seems a bit suspect to me.  I’ll be watching you…”

Well I might be embellishing a bit.

It is a good thing if a bulletin can make people feel welcome.  American blogger Jon Acuff had a friend who attended a Catholic church (I’m guessing in the US) who printed the following in their bulletin:

We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, gay, filthy rich, dirt poor, yo no habla Ingles. We extend a special welcome to those who are crying new-borns, skinny as a rail or could afford to lose a few pounds.  

We welcome you if you can sing like Andrea Bocelli or like our pastor who can’t carry a note in a bucket. You’re welcome here if you’re “just browsing,” just woke up or just got out of jail. We don’t care if you’re more Catholic than the Pope, or haven’t been in church since little Joey’s Baptism.  

We extend a special welcome to those who are over 60 but not grown up yet, and to teenagers who are growing up too fast. We welcome soccer moms, NASCAR dads, starving artists, tree-huggers, latte-sippers, vegetarians, junk-food eaters. We welcome those who are in recovery or still addicted. We welcome you if you’re having problems or you’re down in the dumps or if you don’t like “organized religion,” we’ve been there too.  

If you blew all your offering money at the dog track, you’re welcome here. We offer a special welcome to those who think the earth is flat, work too hard, don’t work, can’t spell, or because grandma is in town and wanted to go to church.   We welcome those who are inked, pierced or both.

We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, had religion shoved down your throat as a kid or got lost in traffic and wound up here by mistake. We welcome tourists, seekers and doubters, bleeding hearts … and you!

That is genius.  Because that truly makes people feel welcome.  That is grace, and it is highly attractive.  It’s exceedingly welcoming to everyone because although 99% of people reading it did not blow their offering money at the dog track, it makes you think, “if people who have done that are welcome here, then I probably am as well.”

It is one thing to have a welcoming building, and smiling people on the door, and the air con set at the right temperature.  But if the grace that oozes from the bulletin I have just quoted oozes from the hearts of the people in the church then new people will feel welcome.  They will feel very welcome indeed.  In fact you will be well on your way to having the sort of church that Jesus did – a group where the outcast, the “sinner” and the broken felt right at home.

John

PS Check out Jon Acuff’s blog here.  He writes some humorous pieces and does the odd serious piece, many of which are quite profound.  It is very popular, and with good reason.

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One Comment to “You are Welcome”

  1. Sounds like my kind of church. 🙂

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