Think back. Remember the first time you visited PVUMC? What was it like to come to a brand new place and meet people you had never before encountered? What was it like to walk into a strange and unfamiliar worship space and hear a preacher and choir that you were perhaps a bit unsure about? What was it like to be in a crowd of people that you did not know? Frankly, I think there can be many barriers for people when they decide to visit us for the first time. There is a lot riding on a new visit. Most of us have grown so comfortable with our church experience over time, we easily forget what it was like to be new, to feel conspicuous or out of place, anxious we might do something wrong and wondering if PVUMC was a place we could return to or call our church home.
Sunday we begin a new worship series, “Well, Come.” We’ll talk about our hospitality and how we invite and welcome people to our church — keys to our future and our survival. We have newcomers every week. Some return, but many do not. I understand there can be many reasons for this. We may not offer the style of worship they want, or the kind of theological message they are hoping for. However, if people come to church and no one speaks to them or tells them something about our congregation, or makes a real effort to find out something about them (what they are interested in, what they are looking for) I am quite confident that person will not come back.
Every one of us plays a role in creating genuine hospitality. Each one of us makes a difference in the kind of welcome that newcomers experience. We know why church is important to us. We have found for ourselves the treasure of faith here; it speaks to our hearts and our minds, the circumstances affecting our life and family. Faith can make a difference in whether we barely get by, or tomorrow with the strength and hope that can only come from God. I want all who visit PVUMC to experience such a faith as we have known it. I want all who come to meet God’s welcome and grace which have blessed our faith and believing. Sunday, we worship and meet God who always welcomes us!