How to Make the Church More Welcoming?

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Next week many of our churches will receive more visitors than at any other time of the year. I'm asking - How Can We Make Church More Welcoming

My original plan for today was to share some of the prayer requests that have been added to the Blessing Counters Pray Page.

I’m so thankful that people are visiting both to leave requests and to pray for others. You all bless me bunches.

But rather than share several requests . . . I have just one.

One that I’ve prayed over but even more . . . one I can’t stop thinking about.

Longing to Find a Church for My Whole Family

Please pray for my family to find a church family where we are accepted and loved.

My son is autistic and because of that, finding a church family has been very difficult. We have had a hard time plugging in because to put it simply, we don’t fit the typical church outlet. The longing to belong is as strong as ever, but churches seem to only desire typical families.

Please pray especially for my 18-year-old daughter who has felt rejected by more than one Christian group. She really needs to have people come into her life who truly are walking with the Lord and will show her the Lord’s grace and compassion. She has only ever seen the judgmental and hypocritical side of Christianity and has seen her brother being left out because of his disability.

I would love to see her be able to grow in her faith and have true Christian friends and mentors to walk along side her as she steps into the journey of adulthood.

My husband and I have felt so alone for quite some time as we have walked on this difficult journey called autism. I would also like prayer for finding a job that I could do during the day while my son is at school. I have worked the night shift for many years and it is starting to affect my health, but because of my son’s autism, he can’t be left alone.

Thank you for praying for a stranger, but fellow believer in our Lord.

Next week many of our churches will receive more visitors than at any other time of the year. I'm asking - How Can We Make Church More Welcoming

I’ve heard from more than a few people lately how hard it is to connect with a community of believers. So, the question I’m thinking about today is…

How can we make our churches more welcoming?

We set up committees and plan programs but if adults and children don’t feel like they belong none of it matters.

And like always, my goal is not to be critical or incite guilt. I just think this is something important for us to talk about and I’d love to know your thoughts.

Next week many of our churches will receive more visitors than at any other time of the year.

So, let’s talk…

  • What does your church do to make visitors feel welcome?
  • What would you like to see churches do better?
  • What inspired you to get involved at your current church?
  • How does your church reach out to new special needs families?
  • How can we help teens connect in a clique-ish environment?
  • What can we do to try to see our churches through a visitor’s perspective?

Therefore, [continue to] accept and welcome one another, just as Christ has accepted and welcomed us to the glory of [our great] God. Romans 15:7 (AMP)

“One of the marvelous things about community is that it enables us to welcome and help people in a way we couldn’t as individuals. When we pool our strength and share the work and responsibility, we can welcome many people, even those in deep distress, and perhaps help them find self-confidence and inner healing.” ~Jean Vanier

Thank you so much for joining me today.

And a thank you to BibleGateway.com for sources.

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25 thoughts on “How to Make the Church More Welcoming?

  1. My heart aches when I hear women lamenting the fact that they cannot find a welcoming church – and I want to be part of the solution to that tragic need. Thanks for putting this on the table today, Deb.

    1. I agree, Michele. I think we just get excited to catch up with friends each week that sometimes we don’t even notice visitors. I definitely want to do better. Blessings!

  2. Thank you for sharing that prayer request. So very difficult. I will be praying for a church family where they can be at home. It also convicted me: when have I glanced over and not included those different from myself?

    1. Me too, Sue! I’m praying for this family and for our church families as we do better in making everyone feel welcome and at home. You’re very welcome. Loved your post!

  3. Deb,
    My heart aches hearing that prayer request on so many levels. For the mom, the dad, the daughter, the child with autism. Lord, would you guide this family to a church that loves them with Your lavish love. Heal their hearts and minds. Let them KNOW you are setting them in a high place of honor, for Your name sake, Amen!
    Deb I love your heart. I’ve put a request on that prayer wall and was so blessed to have sisters pray for me. I shared without giving my name because of the situation, but am so thankful for what you’re doing. Praying God’s abundant blessing is on your life and your church. May God give you and your husband divine wisdom on how to make your church that welcoming place you so desire so His people can experience His lavish love through the arms of your flock.
    Be Blessed & Refreshed,
    ~Sherry Stahl
    xoxo

  4. This request broke my heart. I have been on both ends I’m sure. We have lived in some places where we never found a church home. And I’m sure I have been less than welcoming at other times. Our church has a ministry for special needs children where each one is assigned a friend who goes to Sunday School with them and is just there to help them in any way they can. It is a neat program for the smaller children, but I’m assuming the son mentioned in the prayer request might be a teenager. That adds another layer. I will be praying for them.

    1. What a wonderful idea, Kathy! I’m sure your church is blessing many families through that ministry. And what a blessing for the “assigned friend” too. Really beautiful! Thanks so much for sharing it with us. God bless you!

  5. Oh, how this woman’s plea touched my heart! I’m going to take extra notice of how my church family treats the newcomers, especially those with particular disabilities and/or impairments. Are we welcoming to all? How can we be better at showing everyone Christ’s love?
    Great thoughts to ponder, Deb!
    Blessings!

    1. Thanks, Martha! That is my prayer . . . that we would all be more mindful and attentive to those who are visiting and just trying to find someplace to call home. God’s blessings!

  6. Deb —

    First off I have prayed for this woman and her entire family that she will find a church that will be just perfect for her family. Well, actually no church is perfect. Hopefully, with all of us stomping heaven, it will be answered asap.

    I have seen some amazing things happen in a church when we are willing to step out and speak up. Maybe a church can’t start a program but they have a loving person that would be more than willing to help out.

    I know our church has a wonderful program for families with special needs children. Maybe if we could post the area someone might know of a church near hers.

    When we started down the road with family members with mental illness our church had no programs. They, however, did walk beside me with prayer and support.

    As I shared our walk – that has changed and we have a great willingness to help families with mental health challenges. Together the church and I have grown to now offer classes and a support group.

    1. Thank you for your prayer, Maree. And for these helpful suggestions! It doesn’t take a committee, it just takes caring people getting up and doing. God’s blessings!

  7. I try to be like my mother in this area. She was the friendliest person at church and wasn’t part of any greeting committee. (I hate that there’s a committee for everything but stuff still falls through the cracks. Committees are not the answer.) Anyhow if she saw a family like the one above she would be genuine and smile like they were the only people that mattered; and she would encourage them. It’s how she made so many life long friends and at her funeral, this was a common theme that was echoed.
    I’ve felt lonely and unwelcome at church especially after moving to another city. There has to be a genuineness so that people want to come back – and that is what seems to be missing the most.

    1. Your mother sounds like an exceptional woman, Nylse. My mother, too, was quiet and caring. She would see someone off on their own and just quietly find a way to show that she cared. What a blessing to have such great examples in our lives. Blessings to you!

  8. I love that we both wrote about the church today, Deb! These are conversations we need to be having — because the enemy longs to keep us closeted up at home and away from fellowship and encouragement that we only find when we press in to the Body.

    1. I love that too, Lyli! You’re right, the enemy is working to keep us isolated. But the Spirit in the Body and within us is greater. Oh the strength of a family of believers working together in His name. God’s blessings!

  9. When my family and I first started attending our church, our age group were not so good at welcoming new people. If my husband had wanted to go elsewhere, I would have been glad to follow.
    But after quite some time, the Holy Spirit put into my mind to BE the change that I wanted to SEE in the Church. So I obeyed. I knew what it was like not to feel like I belonged, so I started making sure to welcome and spend time with visitors that the Lord led me to approach.
    We presently have a deaf lady that travels to our church by bus and metro almost every Sunday even though we usually don’t have a translator. A number of us have made it a point to use what little sign language we have picked up along the way to let her know that we love her and care about her. She has been attending for about a year.
    Another woman comes who has some form of disability that made it impossible for her to make it up to the baptistry. Our pastor got someone’s hot tub and set it up in the entryway of the church and baptized her using video equipment so we could all witness her baptism. Also, when she wants to go forward for prayer, one of the men or women sitting around her will help her walk down to the front to sit on the front bench to pray.
    We had two autistic young people coming for quite some time, and we bent over backwards to accommodate them. They both came unsupervised, but the younger one really needed her dad, who refused to come or even be her transportation. She stirred up trouble with the older one, who started going elsewhere. We really tried hard. Both of them know that we love them.
    We have a couple from Africa that, one or both, come almost every week even though the husband doesn’t speak good English. I’ve taken the time personally to speak with them in French to make sure that they feel welcome.
    There was a young lady from India who came for a while. I used to pick her up and bring her when she couldn’t get a ride.
    An African-American woman whom I had loved on opened up to me one day about the fact that she was in such a small minority in our church. I encouraged her to stick it out because if all the minorities leave because they are the minority, the new visitors of that same minority will come and find themselves the only one of that minority. She decided to stick it out and stayed (and sometimes brings visitors with her,) and I am so glad! She is a wonderful sister!

    I think the key is to love God so much that we let go of our fear of those who are different from us. We need to ask Him to help us to see them the way He sees them. We also need to make sure that we are going to church to meet Jesus and not because it is the religious thing to do. I believe we have a good number of prayer warriors that are praying at our church for the people that He brings to us.
    So prayer, love, and obedience to God’s call are all key. Carnality and religiosity won’t get the job done. Having and intimate walk with Jesus will, because we need Him to work through us.
    Sometimes we have to be the ones to step forward to do what we see needs to be done. We can inspire others to follow suit by being the example they never had.

    1. I love these beautiful stories, Ruth! Thank you so much for sharing them. Your church family sounds like they are blessing many in your community. Praise God!

  10. Deb- I pray this family will find a church that embraces them all.
    I’ve switched denominations three years ago and my new church does a lot of outreach. I love being part of something which extends out into the community.
    Our churches need to embrace the hurting, sad and hopeless and give them hope and encouragement!
    Blessings to you Deb!

    1. Amen, Julie! I think too many people think they have to have it all together before they participate at church. We can dispel that just by reaching out and being kind and welcoming. Many blessings to you!

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