We’ve all been in situations where we’ve felt uncomfortable or unwelcome, but the worst place to feel this way is at church. I’ve heard horror stories from people that have gone to a new church or to church with a friend/family member, and they felt unwelcome or unwanted. It completely turned them off from all other churches.
Recently my church has gone through a lot of changes including getting a new pastor and merging two churches together. Usually things like this don’t work and can even result in the church splitting apart, but the exact opposite happened. Sauk Village Church of God and The Crossroads Church of God came together, kept the name ‘The Crossroads’ and welcomed our new pastor, James Schulker. Since then we have done nothing but love each other and the community.
“[The Crossroads] has made me feel more welcomed and appreciated than any other church I’ve been to.” said senior Emily Montalvo.
“Warm, very welcoming church family!” said guest Carol Ervins. “So much love and support. I thank God for the wonderful people he has placed in my life.”
“The warmest and most family-oriented church ever” said church member Joyce Gaston. “Loving God and loving people!”
Like I said, I may be a little biased, but my opinion is not uncommon.
“Becoming a loving/welcoming church means changing the church’s DNA, their culture, from exclusive to inclusive,” said Pastor James Schulker.
“Most churches start out loving in nature – why go to a church that you don’t like everyone – but after time people become so comfortable with their church they begin to close off to others.”
The Bible calls us to be loving, accepting, welcoming, and God-fearing people, and that is exactly what my church strives to be. As a family, we do our best to lift each other up, whether that be someone we’ve gone to church with for years, or someone who just walked through the doors. We greet everyone with a hug and a handshake, and it resonates with people. When I hear people talking about their churches and how they walk in, listen to the Word, and walk out without talking to anyone, it makes me think to myself, “Wow, they’d be in for a real treat if they came to my church.” Something like that is unheard of at The Crossroads.
“What I would say to a church that wants to change their DNA/Culture is first the Pastor needs to remember why he/she is there,” said Schulker. “If they don’t have a passion for the people, then the church will never become loving/welcoming to the fullest. Then the leader needs to get the message out to his/her leaders until they demonstrate it and finally to everyone in the congregation… It’s part of our Vision statement: Loving God, Loving People and Intersecting Lives with Christ.”
My purpose for writing all of this isn’t solely to brag about my awesome church, but rather to encourage you to do the same at your church. If your church isn’t one that shakes peoples’ hands or gives them hug then they walk in, maybe you could be the first to change that. Maybe you could start creating a sense of acceptance or a welcoming feeling at your church if there isn’t one already there. Trust me, it’ll make a difference. It may take some time, but sooner or later you’ll notice a sense of joy radiating from your congregation.
4:13 Student Ministries
Article for Iliana Christian School Newspaper