Newsletter January 2023

How reframing invitations and welcome can build life giving community relationships

You know what it’s like. You walk into a room and everyone is already huddled into little groups, chatting and laughing together. You feel your palms get sweaty, you clear your throat and swiftly look around the room hoping to see someone you know. 

We’ve all been there – new environments, new people, blood curdling fear. 

That’s how most of us feel when we enter new places, and probably even more so when we enter a room where everyone else seems to know each other. Whilst we love to invite people to our missional community events, our church services and our homes we need to remind ourselves that invitation is more than just asking the question.

The Power of Invitation

I used to hate inviting people to church things. It brought out the most insecure part of me. What if they say no? What if they think I’m weird? What if they say yes?!

But really, the person receiving the invitation is the person on the spot. Do you know what they are thinking? Wow, they must really like me to want to spend time with me outside of work… I’m busy that night, I hope they’re not offended if I say no… This is great! I never get invited anywhere!

Whilst we are busy worrying about what they think of us, the reality is that the person you invite doesn’t want to upset you. People like to get invitations, it lets you know that someone was thinking of you, that they think you are with their time and energy. It reminds us that we are worth getting to know.

A Good Welcome

Once you’ve started inviting people to your missional community social, out for a walk, or maybe to a church service, some of them are going to say yes. That’s a good thing. This is where people get to experience the beautiful expressive family of God as we introduce them to our wider community. How we welcome people matters, when we feel welcomed, accepted and heard, we want to spend more time with those people.

Our missional community has been talking about a good welcome recently. Some of our youth have started secondary school and we have people who have moved to the UK from other countries join, so the topic has been on our minds. You’d be surprised at the super simple things that have made them feel welcome:

  • When someone remembers my name
  • Sharing phone numbers and messaging me in the week
  • Inviting me out for a coffee or for lunch
  • Taking time to show me around the city
  • Sitting with me during lunch so I wasn’t on my own

Let’s be clear, whilst all of these things made people feel welcome, they were not all done by one person. When we are part of a community, everyone has a part to play and can bring their best contributions.

Maybe you love having people over and feeding them, the students in your community will definitely thank you for that! Perhaps your best contribution is to help someone move some furniture, to recommend a plumber or let them borrow your lawn mower. Or maybe you’re the king of funny gifs.

Whatever it is, bring your best contribution as you welcome new people into God’s family.

Authenticity is Attractive

If there is one thing that you can do to help people feel welcome, it’s to be yourself. Authenticity has always been and will always be attractive. When we are willing to show up as ourselves, faults and all, we open the door for others to do the same.

Authenticity allows us to have conversations that go beyond the surface and gives opportunities for Holy Spirit to step in and bring transformation. When we are authentic we give others the permission to do the same.

People were drawn to Jesus not just because he had compassion for those in need, not just because he was a great teacher with wisdom and knowledge or even because he was a radical troublemaker! Jesus was authentic. He didn’t pretend to be someone else to impress people, he was honest, loving, challenging and gentle.

Imagine what our communities would be like if each person who interacted with us was invited in and welcomed both into community and relationship. This week, find an opportunity to invite and welcome someone into what you are doing and join in with Holy Spirit on the greatest adventure.