03 February 2019

Welcome as an Expression of Love

Welcome as an Expression of Love

Picture of Paris Mate, Contributor at GraceLife London

Article by Paris Mate

Contributor at GraceLife London

When I first joined GraceLife London, I essentially knew the name of every single person name who attended GraceLife London. It was a lot easier back then when there were only 30 or so people at a Sunday service. Now almost seven years later, with significant church growth (praise God!), it has become more difficult to keep track of who is who – whether that person is a new visitor or long-standing member!

Maybe you have been on the receiving end of being asked if this is your first time visiting a church despite regularly attending. Or maybe you have been asked if this is your first time visiting a particular congregation despite regularly attending. Just maybe you have been the culprit. Have you ever visited any church and left without a “hello” let alone the welcome and brotherly affection expected of God’s children?

When we look towards the picture of the local church and the reality that we are brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus Christ, our longing and desire should be to know each and every one of God’s children whom He has chosen to be in our local family. The New Testament is saturated with “one another” commands which we have the dutiful pleasure of carrying out to each other. We should rejoice and praise God to see this happening throughout our church but there is a reality that in a growing church, some people can be missed. They may even be suffering from the lack of connection and fellowship in silence.

I do recognise that it is becoming extremely difficult for everyone to know each person as the Church is growing, let alone to know, live and labour alongside them. Are we resigned to defeat? Is there actually anything we can do to make sure each person is welcomed and actively involved in the fellowship of GraceLife London?

You may have heard the recent announcements asking for additional helpers to serve in the welcome team. This ministry was started with the burden to see every individual brother and sister within this local church be known, loved, served and cherished as they are by our heavenly Father.

The work of the welcome team begins the very moment someone walks into the chapel for the first time. While it sounds so simple, being the recipient of an intentional and affectionate greeting and conversation where it is clear the other person genuinely cares for you and wants to know you can leave a lasting impression in a person’s mind. We as a church should be characterised by love, warmth and affection.

However, it doesn’t stop there! There is much more work that is needed to see fellow Christians integrated into the life of the church after visiting for a period of time and, perhaps, deciding to make GraceLife London their home. This includes very practical steps such as introducing them to other people within the church, coordinating with local fellowship leaders so they are integrated into a local community, helping them explore areas in which they can serve and ultimately displaying the love for one another that our Lord says will characterise His disciples in John 13:35.

Obviously, this work is not exclusive to the welcome team. It is our collective responsibility as members of Gracelife London that we need to fulfil. The role of the welcome team is simply to facilitate and encourage this.

On the face of it, these are very ordinary yet practical steps. I am often reminded that the Christian walk is filled with ordinary steps of obedience. When we consider the end goal – close-knit communities within the local church, lives lived alongside each other; spiritual encouragement and comfort in our time of most need – for some of us that can seem like a long way away. However, I am convinced that as with most areas in our Christian lives, God can bless and work through these small and ordinary steps to bring about the desire of our heart to see Christ more glorified through us as a church.

For those of you considering serving in this ministry, some of these small steps could include:

  • Arriving before our morning and afternoon services to introduce yourself, meet, greet and get to know new and not so new visitors and members to the Church.
  • Standing back from the eruption of sweet fellowship after services to spot people who are alone.
  • Being a focal point for integrating people into the life of the church ranging from formal church meetings and activities (e.g. fellowship groups, men and women’s meetings) to informal gatherings. This assumes you are involved and plugged in yourself in order to point other people to these.
  • Personally resolving and committing to prioritise the spiritual well-being of others during the week by following up with them, praying for them, meeting with people and organising/facilitating fellowship within the wider body (particularly in instances where you know they might not be).

Serving in the welcome team is very much centred on the outward expression of the giving of yourself to the Lord by the giving of yourself to people first and foremost. This could include taking an interest in someone’s life, deciding to develop a deeper relationship with a select number of people or setting aside time in your week to check-in on someone. This means prioritising people within our “busy” lives despite how we feel. Please pray that those of us serving in this ministry will exemplify this and not lose heart and that we will prayerfully continue with all endurance in the giving of ourselves for the glory of God.

If you would like to find out more information about the welcome team, please contact me, Salesi Morris or Kojo Aidoo.

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