Welcome to our series of posts in which we recap songs sung and liturgy spoken at City On A Hill Church in Brookline/Boston.
Every week new folks visit City on a Hill. Some are Christians who have moved to our area from somewhere else and some are people who are exploring faith, maybe for the first time. Walking into a church gathering for the first time can be stressful. Not knowing anyone or where anything is creates obstacles, even for the most outgoing and committed person.
We want to make sure we are welcoming new people like Jesus. This vision of hospitality requires us all to serve on the “welcome team,” not just the folks in blue CoaH shirts. In my sermon last Sunday, I highlighted some of the ways we can all welcome people on Sundays. Here they are with a little humor sprinkled in for fun.
- Be Early and be Friendly – To really welcome people we need to arrive before them. Some guests may not have had someone be friendly to them all week so smile, but not in a creepy way like you are trying to sell them a time-share.
- Eye Contact – When you look into a person’s eyes you communicate you are paying attention and you care. But don’t stare like a stalker or like Patriots fan meeting Tom Brady.
- Shake a Hand – For some people a handshake may be the only friendly physical contact they have had in that week.
- Offer Help – New people don’t know where anything is – the auditorium, the bathrooms, CoaH Kids, coffee, etc. If you are a regular, you are their Waze app for CoaH gatherings. When possible, take them to where they want to go, don’t just point.
- Offer to Sit with Guests – By offering to sit with them (or them with you), you are helping them feel at home. It is weird sitting by yourself in a room full of strangers who seem to know each other.
- Ask Good Questions - Ask about their work, family, hometown, etc., but not so much you come across like an FBI investigator.
- Invite to Community Group - Many of our visitors are open to check one out a CG but visiting a stranger’s home with no personal connection feels like you are joining a cult. A personal invite can make all the difference.
- Invite for Coffee – If you made a personal connection with the person, invite them to grab coffee at a local spot. Maybe they are from a place where the only coffee tastes like it was strained through an old burnt tire (aka Starbucks). Take them to Pavement, Render, or Nero and they will thank you.
- Offer Prayer – After you have talked for a while or if you sense they are sad or hurting, you can ask, “Is there some way I can pray for you?” You have no idea how God might use your prayer in a person’s life.
- Set up with Guests in Mind - Whether you are putting out a sign, cutting up bagels, or setting up CoaH kids space, think about the people you are doing it for. You may be doing something for a person who is about to start a journey with Christ or who is at the end of their rope and needs to encounter God today.
For us as a gospel-family, hospitality is not a rule we follow but a response to what Jesus did for us. In the next few weeks, many of our first time visitors will be new and don’t know anyone in the city yet. Whoever walks through our doors, we have the chance to welcome them like Jesus.