|This Article is originally from the Fall 2005 edition of good idea!, also available here in a fully formatted PDF file.
The version below was updated January 3, 2009
Many people in our society would say they are “exploring their spirituality.” Some of them at one time or another will check out the church, to see if we have anything to offer them in their explorations. What will their experience of our church be like? Will it be welcoming? Will their encounter with Christians be such that they want to repeat it the next week-and the next-or will it be such that they never want to come again?
Often parishes will identify themselves as welcoming, nurturing communities, when in reality there are numerous barriers that make it difficult for newcomers to enter into the life of our congregations.
Ed Dallow has adopted and adapted principles from Andrew Weeks’ book Welcome! (The Alban Institute, 1992) to create a highly effective program of welcoming and integrating newcomers at Christ Church-so effective that a couple of years ago they erected a new building to accommodate the enlarged congregation. He has also developed a very helpful workshop in response to those who have asked about the practices which have been so fruitful in Cataraqui.
Ed’s presentations are therefore designed to provide ideas, tools and techniques to help congregations with skills of Greeting, Welcoming and Integrating Newcomers into the Body of Christ. Our goal should be that someone visiting us for the first time will discover something exciting and God-inspired in our worship services and in our community, and be drawn to return and learn more.
In the workshop we examine such things as:
- Evangelism and stewardship as they relate to our culture
- the ‘real-life’ situations of the churches represented at the workshop
- the pros and cons of ‘marketing techniques’
- responding to those who come wanting ‘Rites of Passage’
• providing opportunities for ‘seekers’ to become involved in the life of the congregation.
A key part of these workshops is looking at case studies provided by those attending, with a view to discovering workable solutions.