Some congregations have a Welcome Committee or a Hospitality Team or something similar. There’s certainly nothing wrong with a team like this, but, as I have been sharing over the last several weeks, we’re all on the welcoming team. We all play a part in making our congregation one that is welcoming, loving, accepting, and hospitable.
Every Sunday, as a part of my welcome to our church, I try to remind us that we’re all greeters. “This is a community of love and grace. Because we are a gathering of Jesus’ followers, we all play a part in making this a welcoming, loving, and accepting community of faith. Please make sure you take time today to say hello to someone you don’t know.” I say something similar every Sunday.
There are many verses in Scripture that remind us of our responsibility to welcome one another. Here are a few that come to mind immediately:
Romans 15: 7, “Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”
Hebrews 13: 2, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without knowing it.”
This last verse reminds me of the story in Genesis 18, where Abraham and Sarah welcome and show hospitality to the three men or angels. They offer the men drink, food, and a safe and comfortable place to stay. We as a church can do the same.
In one of my previous congregations, I remember a young woman who decided to come and check out our church one Sunday. She had never been before. As she found her way to the entrance and looked up the stairway to the sanctuary, she decided to turn around and go back to her car. That’s when she encountered two older, longtime members of the congregation. They immediately introduced themselves, welcomed the young guest, and invited her to sit with them. Not only did they enjoy worship together, but they invited their new young friend to breakfast. It began a lasting friendship with that couple and the congregation.
We all have a role to play in inviting, welcoming, and showing hospitality to every person who walks through the doors of our church. In doing so, we may be welcoming angels without knowing it.