I don’t know of any parishioners who don’t consider their church welcoming. That’s just part of what it means to be church. But in my experience, the welcome isn’t always what members think it is. Our faith is nurtured by demonstrating hospitality — without it the Spirit doesn’t flow.
For a year I sold and served bread for a small company. The customers were cheerful. Music enlivened the atmosphere. The store was wide open so customers could see the ovens, bakers, and the bread raising or cooling down. It was a yeasty experience. People were welcomed graciously.
What, I wondered, is it like to enter the church? Is there joy in the air? Are people coming with expectation and delight? Are the greeters, ushers, teachers, clergy and others warm, engaging and appropriately attentive? Is the space well-kept? Is it bustling while also being centering? Is it musty or fresh? Is the noise welcoming or off-putting?
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