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Welcome Others as Christ Has Welcomed You

Dear New Covenant Family,

    Our Christmas Concert this weekend, Hope of the World, exalts Jesus as the Son whom God sent into the world “not to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17).

As we celebrate the coming of our Savior into our broken world, let us rejoice that he welcomes people like Rahab into his family—for we are all a lot more like Rahab than we are like Jesus. When we look at who Jesus came from, we can appreciate better what Jesus came for: he came to welcome outsiders, to rid us of our disgrace, and to make us at home in his Father’s household.

    Every Sunday, but especially at times like Advent, we have the opportunity to extend our Savior’s welcome to people who are not yet a part of our family. Let’s not look down on “Christmas/Easter Christians”—those who only come to church a couple times a year—for we know that if God had not opened our eyes and tenderized our hearts toward the gospel of his grace, we wouldn’t be in church either. Instead, let’s take every opportunity we can to say to people, “We’re so glad you’re here!”
    Welcoming others is not merely holding doors open and shaking hands (although that’s a good start!). One church describes it like this: welcoming others involves “helping each person who comes through our doors find authentic relationships of love. It is bringing all who would come to our ‘house’ into fellowship with us, so that they might be in fellowship with God himself. We welcome others as Christ welcomes us so that with one voice we might glorify God together.”
    That’s a biblical reflection of Romans 15:5-7: “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you.”
    So as we get ready to welcome others into our fellowship over the next several weeks, let me give you ten practical reminders of how you can participate in extending God’s embrace to people who may not yet be a part of our family.

Ten Ways to Become a More Welcoming Church Member

1. Continue to live in joyful harmony with one another: a church that warmly loves one another will convey that warmth to those who are new or visiting (sadly, the converse is true as well!).

2. Include others in your conversations with friends by drawing them into the conversation with questions. Let’s endeavor not to make guests feel like they are intruding on a private meeting when they come to visit.

3. Come to church with your eyes open for people, and be ready to interrupt your tasks in order to cultivate relationships.

4. Introduce yourself to people you don't know (don't be afraid to tell someone you've forgotten their name- they probably don’t remember yours either!)

5. Look for people who are standing by themselves.

6. Sit next to people you do not know, and tell them a little bit about who you are.

7. Smile.

8. Make eye contact.

9. When someone is hurting, be willing to go beyond "I'll pray for you," and actually stop and pray for that person.

10. Accept and approach people who are different from you—what a great opportunity to learn more about God’s manifold grace!

Grateful for God’s welcome,

David Sunday