Have you ever crossed the threshold of a church that is new to you, with expectancy and curiosity to see what is ahead? Liking what you experience the first Sunday, you return, hoping to connect with a friendly face. You return again, hoping that eventually you will be noticed and you are! Several faces welcome you back.
Churches go to great lengths to advertise and attract newcomers. Many times, numerous people do come, but little is done to keep them there! Churches pursue new people, but aren’t nice enough when they come for the people to want to keep coming. Often, the long-standing members are having too much fun together to see people come and go.
Churches go to great lengths to advertise and attract newcomers. Many times, numerous people do come, but little is done to keep them there!
1. Make a habit of always inviting people who have not yet plugged into fellowship to events. Go a step further and invite them to sit with you. Be sure that your table always has a newer face sitting among you. When you realize that a certain group of people are invited repeatedly to activities, social or ministerial, “extend your borders” and intentionally invite someone new to come. Invite different new people, too! Sometimes, favoritism is shown to certain new people, and others are ignored.
Hebrews 13:2 says, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” Consider that there are people that God plants in your congregation with the intention of blessing your church body. That person needs to be unearthed, like a treasure!
2. Schedule social events that intentionally mix-up friend groups at church. In these events, emphasize that the event is for the purpose of getting to know different people better at church. For example, organize a dessert social where small groups meet in homes and only the hosts know the guest list (6 or 8 people). People sign up and are called by the host the morning of the social to tell them where they are going.
Consider that there are people that God plants in your congregation with the intention of blessing your church body. That person needs to be unearthed, like a treasure!
3. Guard against leadership primarily fellowshipping with leadership. It’s easy to become a leadership clique that begins to see itself as “us" and the church body as "them.” Leadership members should reach out regularly to the members of the church body, getting to know them in and outside of the church environment.
I Timothy 3:2 specifically lists hospitality as a leadership (“overseer”) essential; “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” One reason that leaders need to be hospitable is because they need to be in touch with the people that they serve. If they rarely have such contact, they can become heavily focused on their personal agendas. Fellowship in this manner helps keep balance. Hospitality is an opportunity to connect and better understand the church body’s needs.
It’s wonderful to have a short visit with someone you really like! But it’s generous to include someone else when just two would be so nice.
This is why 1 Peter 4:9 says, “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” Admittedly, it can stretch us to include newer people in our comfortable little worlds. Hospitality and inclusion can cost us a little. In the end, we often receive generously back in one way or another, from those outside of our comfy little group of friends.
So much hurt can be avoided when we simply welcome and accept people from all walks of life into our church fellowships. Keeping interactions on the surface, however, leaves people feeling uncared for and excluded. While this may seem obvious, it’s a common problem that comes from liking one another so much! Reaching outside our social circle keeps our churches growing and ready for Kingdom business!