The best church welcoming statements are:
- produced through open church conversations
Questions to ask before crafting a welcoming statement:
Is your congregation happily open to having all people attend worship services, Bible studies, Sabbath School classes, potlucks, and prayer meetings? This invitation includes people of every race, appearance, belief system, sexual orientation, nation, gender, economic level, age, and ability.
If the majority prayerfully says No, then your church is not ready for a welcoming statement yet. This is a call to spend time with your congregation discipling them in the ministry of hospitality.
If the church majority prayerfully says Yes, incorporating “welcoming” in a statement is appropriate. And using “inclusive” is acceptable if you define when and where participation is welcomed. It is important to define what “inclusive,” “loving,” or “accepting” in your congregation looks like.
In the Seventh-day Adventist Church there are no “black churches” or “white churches” or “brown churches.” People of any skin color can be an intrinsic part of any Adventist church—otherwise it’s not really Adventist. Does your church welcome and include in the life of the church all ethnicities?
What about others on life’s margins? The divorced, the “shut-ins,” the chronically depressed, the new mothers, the smokers and drinkers, the ones existing from paycheck to paycheck, the cynical, the tattooed, the tactless, the hopeless? Do they know that they are loved unconditionally and welcomed absolutely?
Do your church leaders agree that in the eyes of God your LGBT+ friends are equal in value to straight, cisgender people? Ask an LGBT+ person, “Are we a welcoming church?”
To what degree are youth and young adults in your church invited to be vitally involved? Research shows that congregations with high levels of youth involvement are the ones most likely to be growing. Do young people, who come from their own culture, feel unabashedly welcomed? Are they given ample responsibility, creative input, and trust?
In this time of authentic revival and reformation, when the fresh wind of the Holy Spirit blows where it will, any movement by your congregation toward hospitality is something to celebrate!
“‘Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.”
—Matthew 22:9, 10, NIV