We all want our churches to be loving environments. But what does that look like? How do we make that happen?
As I see it, some churches work to be more friendly— and that’s good. Some move beyond being friendly and move to caring— and that’s better. But, I think there is another step. That step is being a carrying church.
Let’s look at the progression.
It starts with friendly churches.
We need to be intentional about the friendliness of our churches. Nowadays, many churches and church leaders do trainings on how to be a friendly church. A church can be an intimidating environment for newcomers, so we must start taking steps to make everyone feel more comfortable when they enter. We have things like welcoming teams and greeters at the door.
In the past, churches weren’t as intentionally friendly, at least as we would think of friendly today. Oftentimes, no one would greet you at the door; you would just walk in. But now, there are smiling faces opening the door when you enter. Someone says to you, “Hey, good to see you!”
Friendly churches are a step in the right direction in transforming our churches into places that better reflect the love of Christ. It’s nice to feel as though you’ve walked into an approachable and agreeable environment.
But we can go further.
As time passed with more and more churches becoming friendly churches, we began to realize that people weren’t just looking for a friendly church. They were looking for friends. A friendly church doesn’t mean friends. It just means you taught people how to greet one another—which is a good thing, but there’s more to friendship than that.
A friendly church is basically a greeting church.
But a caring church is a church that is moving into deeper community. In a caring church, people have an intentional engagement in each other’s lives. It is in a caring church that people find friends.
In a caring church, people are not only identified as members of a community, but are also able to participate as members of the community. You can’t be a caring church when you’re always sitting in the sanctuary, facing forward, lined up like you’re on shelves at Walmart.
That’s not community; that’s just proximity.
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SOURCE: Christianity Today, Ed Stetzer