The website Faith in Homes has included a series of articles recently on the issue of welcome and the church.
To help you think more about this issue, you might find these interesting:
Blessed but not with a child : Introduction by Jane Butcher ” This thought-provoking article touches on so many issues that exist in churches. How does a church offer a place of belonging to all people so they feel valued for who they are? Highlighted here are the issues of engaging with couples who have no children – possibly due to infertility – and the way they can feel at times when the church is insensitive. But, it goes beyond that… The issues extend to those who have made a conscious choice not to have children or those who are foster or adoptive parents, whether married or single – again, whether due to infertility or a conscious choice – and those who are single of any age. This article offers a variety of opinions, some of which you may agree with and some you may not. To me, what is important is that we recognise these aspects and as churches we do everything we can as individuals and as a gathered community to ensure all people are valued equally.” To read the article in full, follow this link
Taking Spider-Man to church: Sunday morning rush to get ready for church… child appears dressed as Spider-Man ready to go! The question flashes through your mind… ‘Is it acceptable’? Or can they go just as they are… and can we as adults come ‘just as we are’? Some may have experienced church as a place where we feel we have to make ourselves good enough. Dressing correctly, behaving correctly, pretending everything is fine with our family, faith, work, home… when actually it’s not. For those who are new to church, how might it feel to enter into a new environment feeling like this? Are there those who have been in church for many years who feel the same and feel a need to have things ‘sorted’? Beyond this, how do children perceive their welcome in church? Do they feel there are expectations to sit quietly, behave in a certain way and maybe wear certain clothes – or is dressing as a princess or Spider-Man perfectly acceptable?
In his article ‘Why my kids wore Spider-Man costumes to church today’ Micah J. Murray explores just that! When his boys asked to wear their superhero costumes, he found himself facing an issue that went beyond the need to get to church on time. In a down-to-earth way, he shares his insights and his desire that his children (and all people) know that they are worthy of love just because they exist! And the photo is here to prove it! Read the full article
Everybody welcome: two words, two meanings by Jane Butcher
Our church services may work very hard at including those of all ages and backgrounds but it goes far beyond that…
Once we leave ‘main church’, this ‘welcome’ needs to continue, and it is not only the role of church leaders to make families or individuals feel welcome – it is the role of everyone – of all ages.
As we have refreshments, do we look around to talk to those who are new or on their own? I am sure I am not alone in admitting I have sometimes held back, apprehensive about starting a conversation as all the ‘what ifs’ spring to mind. But should that be a barrier?
They may look quiet and shy but they wouldn’t be standing there if they didn’t want to talk. They could have left straight away. They may be waiting for someone to speak to them.
For those of us who have been in church for many years, we maybe don’t realise how difficult it is for some people to step through the front door of church – the fears they may have. But what will bring them back again? It may be the amazing teaching, music or children’s/youth ministry but there’s a strong chance it will be how welcome they felt.
So, two simple words ‘Everybody welcome’ may offer the invitation ‘Everybody is welcome’ but equally may stress the importance that ‘Everybody offers welcome’.
So, let’s encourage one another to ‘WOW’ – ‘work on welcome’. If it’s something your church does well that’s great but ‘celebrate and keep encouraging’ – ‘CAKE’ – sounds good!