What was it like the last time you joined a new social group? This might have been a party, book club, sporting group. Did you know anyone? Who helped you make friends? How did you feel walking into a crowd of strangers for the first time? For most people, this is hard work. Possibly such hard work, it is rarely attempted. Church is not immune to these challenges. Churches can be hard to join.
Imagine you are new to our church. How would you like to be welcomed? How could we help you join? You arrive at our front steps, what do you see? Happy people, ready to welcome you. You enter our building, what do you feel? A large traditional church auditorium, it feels formal, but the buzz of the early bird congregation warms it up. People notice you are new to them; they introduce themselves to you. The service begins. The people on the stage are upbeat. There is a positive sense of rapport. They make a point of including new people too. You look around, there is a wide mix of ages, people seem to know one another. People enjoy being together. At the end of the service, people near you strike up conversation and find out why you came today. They take you across the room to connect you to others. As you leave, there is a Pastor at the steps. You chat, exchange numbers to meet later in the week for coffee. Maybe this could be your new church home?
Many contributions help people join our church. We have official roles to help people, ‘welcomers’, ‘pastors’. But these roles are only a fraction of what communicates we value people. Our saying ‘G’Day’ (or equivalent), the buzz in the room, the vibe from the stage, the follow up conversations, connecting people to other people. We are blessed to once again have people wanting to join our church. Here is what I notice, people need friends to belong. How can you help people make friends?
Here are some tips to help people make Unley Park their church home:
- Ask the person their name (and remember it).
- Find out a little about them, why they came etc.
- Ask if they know anyone at church and if not invite them to sit with you.
- Introduce them to people you think they could connect well with.
- Let them know about other activities they might value, such as a Growth Group, youth group.
- Introduce them to a Pastor
- Look for them in the following weeks, care for them, and connect them to others so Unley Park can be their church home.