December 7, 2015

Create welcoming, hospitable communities as if your survival depended on it

All churches should be welcoming, hospitable places. But not all churches are.

You knew that, didn't you?

There will always be people that come to your church for its ideals, its theology, its position on social issues. Some will be come because it is a particular “brand” of church (denomination or tradition). Some, particularly in urban areas, will come simply because its convenient–it’s the closest to their home, etc. (I tend to think that this last criteria is increasing but I have no data to back that up.) All this to say that there will always be reasons that will bring a small group of people through your doors.

None of these will necessarily keep them coming or introduce you to more of them.

Building community–a context in which nurturing relationships can be found and cultivated–is what makes people stick. For some congregations this seems to come naturally. That doesn't mean that it isn’t hard work and requires lots of effort. But it can seem like second nature in the culture of those congregations.

Someone worked really hard to cultivate that.

For too many churches, nurturing this kind of culture does not come natural. When this is the case, you must be intentional about creating this if you want to be sustainable. Yes, sustainable. No matter what scale the community you are cultivating is hoping to achieve, if you are not constantly aware of who is coming through the door, what keeps them coming back and helping them begin to think about the same things about those coming in the door behind them, you will not be able to maintain what you are doing perpetually.

But cultivating a welcoming, hospitable culture isn’t rocket science and doesn’t require a plethora of bubbly extroverts (Not that there’s anything wrong with a plethora of bubbly extroverts if you have them!).

Invite Welcome Connect has a bunch of great tools to get you started. Toast weekly had a great article from my friend Caleb Schutt on how they cultivated this kind of culture at the Table Church here in DC. And the ABCD Institute has a great handbook on creating welcoming communities.

Get to it! Your future depends on it.

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