Forward Today: The Episcopal Church welcomes you… why?

Dear friends in Christ,

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been writing about welcoming guests to our churches, from the outside to the inside. But even more important than how we welcome guests, we need to talk about why we welcome guests.

Of course, we want to welcome guests to our churches with kindness for lots of reasons. Being decent human beings is a fine reason! As I’ve said before, many people who show up in a church for the first time are experiencing a major life transition, so a kind gesture might have a huge impact just when it’s needed.

But there are other reasons. For one thing, we meet Jesus when we welcome strangers. He said so in Matthew 25. Hospitality is very important in the scriptures, as we read again and again.

The mission Jesus gave us is to make disciples of all nations. It’s hard to do that if we don’t do a good job of welcoming people who show up in our churches. I’ve heard horror stories of parents being scolded for bringing kids, of churches keeping the bathroom locked to keep visitors from using it, of visitors getting the silent treatment at coffee hour, and so on. Don’t do that! Be kind!

The best way to know if your church is truly welcoming is to invite some “mystery worshipers.” Get some folks to come along some Sunday and see how they’re treated. Then you’ll know. And the good news is it’s all fixable. Every church can learn—because the church is made up of people, and we can always learn and grow.

We could all benefit from applying one important bit of the Rule of Benedict: “Let all guests who arrive be received like Christ, for he is going to say, “I came as a guest, and you received Me” (Matt. 25:35).

Let us joyfully greet Jesus Christ.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn's signature

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

P.S. This week, we’re doing a very rare thing: having a big sale! You can purchase beautiful gift edition copies of the Book of Common Prayer, stock up on Walk in Love: Episcopal Beliefs & Practices, and dive into Inwardly Digest at a 25% discount. This sale ends on August 31, so get your orders in today. Perfect timing for welcoming new members in the fall.

More from our ministry:

Help visitors find your church with an official Episcopal Church sign

Dive deeper into scripture: A Journey with Matthew Bible Challenge

Stories and tools to transform your church: Invite Welcome Connect

From Grow Christians: Entering St. Bartholomew’s Stories