Welcoming Others…

by: Larry Davies | Feb 12, 2012

Becoming a Vital Congregation starts with how you welcome others…

 

Leader: Jesus went out of his way to show his love for people others wouldn’t give the time
of day. Can we do anything else?

All: He healed the lepers…he cured the lame…he gave sight to the blind…he ate with
sinners…he forgave sins.

Leader: We are his disciples. Can we do anything else but do the same?

All: O God, fill us up. Change us from the inside out. Make us new.

Leader: We pray to be more like Jesus—making those outside your church the heart of
what we do.

All: In the name of Jesus the Christ we pray. Amen.

 

(From Vital Congregations Prayer Guide)

 

I first became serious about my Christian walk in the early 1980’s. During the 45 minute drive to and from work, I listened to Christian teaching tapes and to popular Christian artists. One of my favorite singers was Sandi Patti. Sandi had a voice that seemed to reach the stratosphere and her songs combined great melodies and beautiful lyrics of praise to God.

 

Then, Sandi Patti seemed to disappear. I heard rumors of marital problems and divorce but Sandi Patti disappeared from the Christian music scene.

 

Years later, in her book, “Broken on the Back Row,” Sandi Patti describes an awful marriage, intense loneliness and many mistakes. Yet during her ordeal she never completely walked away from God. But in the book she openly wondered if God still loved her. Sandi wanted and needed to go to church but couldn’t face going back to her old church. So for several years, on Sunday morning, Sandi Patti stayed home.

 

During my ministry, I’ve discovered, there are many people like Sandi Patti: Sincere in their belief in God but wondering if they could ever go back to church again.

 

One Sunday, Sandi Patti decided to go by herself and check out a church in another part of town. She quietly sat on the back row, scared someone would recognize her but hoping she would hear something that would give her hope. Would God help her find her way back? Even though she had been so wrong?

 

The minister began to welcome potential visitors. Immediately Sandi scrunched down in her pew hoping that somehow she would be missed. Maybe everyone would be so focused on talking to each other, they would miss seeing her.

 

The minister said: “If you’re visiting with us today, we’re so glad you’re here. There are people all around you who would like to know your name, if you want to tell them. We want you to know that the God we serve lives within these walls and outside these walls too. But maybe you’ve been visiting with us here this morning and you’re not ready to tell anyone your name. Maybe all you want to do is sit on the back row of the balcony and cry. That’s OK. We want you to know that the God we serve knows how to find you there. He hasn’t forgotten about you. We serve the God of second chances of new beginnings. We serve the God who sets his children free.”

 

The minister would later say, he had no idea why he said those words and certainly did not know Sandi Patti was sitting on the back row. Yet – those words of welcome changed Sandi Patti’s life forever.

 

How we welcome visitors says a lot about who we are:

 

If you’re visiting with us today, we’re so glad you’re here. There are people all around you who would like to know your name, if you want to tell them.

 

We want you to know that the God we serve lives within these walls and outside these walls too.

 

But maybe you’ve been visiting with us here this morning and you’re not ready to tell anyone your name. Maybe all you want to do is sit on the back row of the balcony and cry.

 

That’s OK. We want you to know that the God we serve knows how to find you there. He hasn’t forgotten about you.

 

We serve the God of second chances of new beginnings.

 

We serve the God who sets his children free.

 

Amen.

 

Leader: Jesus went out of his way to show his love for people others wouldn’t give the time
of day. Can we do anything else?

All: He healed the lepers…he cured the lame…he gave sight to the blind…he ate with
sinners…he forgave sins.

Leader: We are his disciples. Can we do anything else but do the same?

All: O God, fill us up. Change us from the inside out. Make us new.

Leader: We pray to be more like Jesus—making those outside your church the heart of
what we do.

All: In the name of Jesus the Christ we pray. Amen.


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