An Englishman was once on a walking holiday in Wales (this isn’t the start of a bad joke!), and he found a small chapel to go to one Sunday in a small village. There were a dozen people there, and the service was traditional and formal—he felt a little out of place in his shorts and walking boots. Only afterwards did he discover that there was one major difference in the service that Sunday—it was in English. The bilingual Welsh congregation had realized that, to welcome the newcomer and enable him to hear the gospel, they would have to change. Without undermining their own gathered worship, they did what was slightly awkward for them in order to make the newcomer at home with them.
Great thoughts on “Church for Guests” from The Briefing. (As part of a longer article.) http://matthiasmedia.com/briefing/2012/03/church-just-imagine/
Some practical suggestions that come out:
- Every up-front speaker telling the congregation their name. Without fail.
- Whoever is introducing the meeting explaining how long it will last, what it will include, and roughly how long each bit will last.
- Preachers always assuming a non-Christian is sitting in front of them (soon enough, they will be).
- Planning services in which people have the opportunity to say what they think, and to ask questions (back to how we teach).
- Keeping notices short, and not done early in the service.Explaining why the family sing, share communion, pray, and so on, and never using jargon!
- Minimizing awkwardness for the newcomer. For instance, is it helpful to a non-family member to stand and sing as the first thing they do? Might it help to stay seated to sing?
(from The Briefing)