Anglicans Online muses on the subject of welcoming newcomers on Sunday morning. Comparing three different experiences they raise the issue of what makes us feel welcome in worship.
In the first church there was no welcome, no greeting, no invitation. In the second church the welcome was like an assault of the inquisitors. The third church was "just right." As they explain the experience:
It's been a week since we were at St Cantilupe, 8 time zones from home, and we now understand what they did so well: they were behaviourally inclusive. We visitors were treated neither as interlopers nor as freaks, but as ordinary people, indistinguishable from those standing next to us who might have been there for decades. Simply by being there, by standing in the nave and singing the hymns and eating the bread and drinking the wine, we became (at least for that one day) one of them. Neither the clergy nor the congregation projected any sense of ownership, any sense of possessiveness, any need to guard their faith or their church or their sacraments against interlopers.
We've seen this phenomenon in sports pubs for years: if you drop in to the Argyll Arms to watch football, and sit down next to someone who roots for your team, you become a full member of the group, and not a visitor. Until last week we didn't realize it could also happen in Anglican churches.
Read the October 21st essay here.
What about your church - is it too little, too much, or just right?