Type in “how to be a welcoming church” and you’ll find thousands of “how to” sites: what to do, what not to do, how to look, what to say, what to give to a newcomer (space, smiles and supper), what to hold back from a newcomer (volunteer lists and automatic debit forms).
Harder to find are thoughts on how to be the kind of community that allows people to be themselves, to explore and question ideas of faith and to find home.
Some characteristics of such a community:
they are humble enough to remember that God is already with the new person
members look forward to learning from each other and know how to listen to a new person’s story
there’s a willingness to recognise as growth, the change that may come from opening doors and hearts to diversity
Mission360: Opening the Circle (coming later in 2019) is a day long workshop for parishes that allows time and space for just this kind of approach to welcome. Look forward to finding out more as we put the finishing touches on this one!