When I was in nursing school, during our psyche rotation, one of the requirements was to attend an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. Several of my friends went together, but my schedule didn’t allow me to go with them, so I went by myself. I had never had a drink of alcohol in my life, and nobody in my immediate, or even extended family, drank (at least around me), so this was quite foreign to me, and I was a bit anxious about the whole thing. Okay, so I was a lot anxious.
As soon as I got out of my car, people approached me to welcome me and they just kept doing it. I think every one of the approximately 75 people there welcomed me, or at least it felt like it. If I had been an alcoholic, I would have definitely come back. No question. These people cared about others in their same situation and wanted to help.
I thought about how people must feel as they visit a church for the first time. They’ve most likely heard good things and bad things about it and don’t really know what to expect. To many of them the format is totally foreign. So they are a bit anxious about the whole thing. Okay, they’re a lot anxious
What if they aren’t greeted by anyone? What if people look at them like they don’t belong? Or what if they are made to feel welcome from the time they step out of their car until the time they leave the property? What if everyone there greets them and makes them feel welcome?
What if they get a feeling of judgement? What if they are made to feel that everyone else has arrived except them? Or what if they are made to feel that we are all on the same journey? That we are all fighting the same fight against the “sin that so easily besets us.”
Now, I’m not saying that we should sit around and say “I’m Regina, and I’m a sinner”, though I think it might not hurt for us to be reminded of our natural state occasionally, and personal testimony is a powerful thing, whatever the context. And the salvation of Jesus Christ is more effective than any 12 step program.
I am saying that as people visit our churches we should welcome them as genuinely and openly as any AA meeting ever did.
Let us come alongside of each other, welcome people into our community, and make it easy, yea even desirable, to join in with us on this journey. None of us have arrived, and until heaven we are all “fighting the good fight of faith.”
By the way, “My name is Regina, and I am a sinner, saved by the grace of Jesus.”