You are not welcome

Every year our subdivision hosts a Chili Cook-Off in November. This year, the Chili Cook-Off was last Saturday. Maggie and I thought that with the baby coming and all, we should give this a shot since it might be one of the last times we would do something by ourselves for a long time.

The big sign at the front of the neighborhood said the event started at 6:00 PM. The neighborhood newsletter said 6:30 PM. But to make it even more hilarious, the newsletter also said, “Just like last year!” (Because, you know, nobody new would ever dream of coming…)

Maggie and I felt the opposite of welcome when we showed up to the Chili Cook-Off. All of the tents were facing inward, so anybody walking around had difficulty seeing what was going on inside. Plus, there was no sign saying, “Welcome” or “Entrance” or “Tickets.”

We tried approaching what we figured was the entrance, but nobody said anything to us. Nobody said hello. Nobody greeted us. So guess what?

We left.

Churches encounter this same problem. We have trouble welcoming newcomers. (This is not the same as evangelizing, or inviting others to join us. That’s an entirely different subject). Since we know the drill, we blithely assume that everybody else does as well. Except when they don’t. I tremble at the thought of how many would-be worshippers have simply walked away because they weren’t welcomed to the church.

I don’t think is an issue at Holy Comforter. We have greeters outside on the church patio, inside the front door, and at the doors to the church. They’ve all been trained to look for the new folks who may not know what’s going on.

But let this tale be a word of warning. Just because you know what to do at church, doesn’t mean the person next to you does.

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