Friday, February 13, 2009

You are Welcome

As my current church meets on Sunday evenings, I have found my Sunday mornings free and what should I dowith free Sunday mornings, but learn more about church. So I had set out to visit various denomenations. My thought was attending a service would provide me with experiental lessons that I could then suppliment with reading material. It's not that I am planning on changing denomenations. Rather I believe that opening the channels of communication cross-denomenationally is what will enable the family of God to thrive through the 21st century. In order to open my mind and better understand a larger cross section of the family of God, I figured I should visit a diverse cross section of denomenations.

I began last week as St Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church . The architecture and design of the church was familiar and comfortable. It reminded me of the little Anglican building my church in England met in. Then Reverend Phil intoduced himself to me and that began a morning full of warm welcomes, sincere interest, and a wonderful level of genuine hospitality. A student of mine ran over and welcomed me with a hug, then declared she would sit with me, before scampering off to let her grandma know. The four women sitting in front of me introduced themselves and we chatted casually. It was the perfect medium. They didn't ask me twenty questions, nor did they say hi and then go back to their own conversations. Then two of the ladies got up from their pew and joined me on my almost empty row. Wow. After church I ended up staying almost 45 minutes chatting during coffee and donut time. Unexpectedly, I might return.

I went to the church to learn about Episcopal services and I did. The liturgy and music was a bit different, but felt right. The sermon was clear and Biblically sound. Yet, it was the since of welcome that draws me back to the congregation. I can't recall ever having such a warm welcome as a visitor. I can't recall providing such a warm welcome to a visitor.

That amazing welcome is the lesson I learned. When new people come into church settings, I ought to be eager to welcome them into the fold. Coming into a church is intimidating and awkward. However, living hospitality and remembering that fellowship should be inclusive, rather than exclusive are remedies for lack of welcome. If I was new to my church, would I return based on how I was greeted, connected with, and followed up? That is an important question. Relationships are key reasons why people stay at church. Therefore we must begin to relate to people who cross the threshhold of the church door with the intention of building the ground floor of a relationship. Shallow welcomes are inhospitable and possibly worse than no welcome at all. At church we all must be less concerned with chatting it up with all our friends and more concerned with engaging and relating to newcomers. That is the unexpected lesson I learned at St Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church. They get it; the genuine interest in someone new.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Smile Compile (aka things that make me smile)

1. warm rain
2. Augustine's City of God
3. 25 random thing lists
4. Blankets on the couch
5. New hair cuts
5. fresh flowers
6. decorated toe nails
7. soft scarves
8. grilled salmon
9. yellow
10. galoshes
11. fairy wings
12. texts from friends

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Drive Thru Confusion

So, although I understand the convenience of drive-thru windows, I must confess I am not their biggest fan. At In and Out I can deal with it because their menu is very simple. At Sonic I actually like to get out and use the walk up order screens. As for most of the world's drive-thrus, I'd like to pass. There is such pressure to order quickly and move on. As I am spending my hard earned money, I prefer to take my time. Additionally, the menu's are often designed for aesthetics rather than ease of ordering. This also slows down a successful decision. Still I am sometimes drawn in by the convienence of not exiting the car. Yesterday I braved a KFC/Long John silver's Drive thru. First it seemed put together poorly. There was a choose three advertisement a car space before the menu, but no choose three options on the actual menu board. Then they had snack meals which included sides but did not list the sides, and as I discovered when ordering did not include a drink. I had never heard a a fast food meal deal not including a drink. Then they had Dr. Pepper clearly advertised on the menu board, but did not sell Dr. Pepper. Thirdly they had so many sub menus and different meal groups I should have been able to find my perfect combination, but was left overwhelmed and stymied. I vote for the KFC/Long John Silvers drive thru as the world's worst drive thru.