Thank you for such a great welcome to the circuit, both Ali and I appreciate this so much. With such a great welcome it is worth reflecting on the nature of welcome and friendship. We have been delightfully surprised at the friendliness of people in Arlington nd surrounding area. This has led to various great conversations and invitations. All this is lovely and great.
In our churches how do we welcome new people into our version of community? Going into a church is a strange and scary prospect of lots of people. At one-time British society was Christianised and 'going to church' wasn't weird or scary. It is now.
Helping people feel they belong is fundamental. How do we do this without overpowering them? Part of the answer is friendship. We treat them like we would like to be treated ourselves and we do this sensitively. Now, I know I am preaching to the converted when I suggest that we choose our words carefully with no hint of judgement or trying to generate guilt feelings! None of the 'we missed you last week' or, we are open more than just Harvest/Christmas'; slightly jokey comments which fall flat and alienate people.