News for September 2017

Dear Friends,

Our Harvest celebrations will soon be upon us – Harvest Sunday is 1st October.

Every year I encourage you to use this opportunity to invite someone you know - family, friend or neighbour, to join us for Harvest.  Who do you know who may really appreciate an invitation? Is there someone you know who has drifted away from church in recent years, and an invitation may just encourage them to come back? A large-scale telephone survey sponsored by Tearfund revealed indicated that three million people in this country would go to church if someone invited them. It’s just that nobody has. Could it be you?

My own return to church life after drifting away as a teenager began because a friend invited me to go with them one Sunday. Looking back, some of you may remember going to church beginning with an invitation.

We will have special Harvest invitations available in September for you to give to people you know. Please do take some! I hope that through the quality of our worship, the warmth of our welcome, and the experience of a loving caring community, visitors may experience God’s love here and want to come back.

Welcome is one of those areas of church life, we are going to be reviewing during the autumn. It is a crucial part of trying to grow our church. Having a warm welcome at the door is a good start, and our sidespeople do a great job; but welcome shouldn’t end there. It should continue through our worship and beyond – being attentive to newcomers and visitors during the service, helping them to find a seat, inviting them to come and sit with you, helping newcomers find their way through the service book, and taking them in to coffee after the service. It can be very daunting venturing in to coffee as a newcomer, especially if you are on your own. Please look out for any visitors or newcomers each week, and make them welcome. We want people to feel ‘at home’ with us at The Good Shepherd. Welcome is the responsibility of us all.

Sadly, we have probably all had experiences of going to a church as a visitor, and no-one speaking to us. I certainly have! We usually only have one chance to get it right when welcoming a newcomer; if we don’t, it might well be the last time we see them at our church.

One church had the slogan: ‘There are no strangers at our church, just friends you haven’t made yet’. Great words, but living them out is a shared responsibility.

So, during the autumn a group of us are going to be looking at our welcome – what we do now, what we do well, and what we could do better. If you would like to join us, you would be very welcome. It would be especially helpful to have a few newer members of our church to share their experiences and ideas. Do let me know if you are interested.

A prayer I encourage you to use as we focus on our ministry of welcome:

Heavenly Father, you have welcomed us into your kingdom
and your heart’s desire is to draw every human being to yourself.
Grant us clear eyes to see people as you see them,
sensitive feet to stand in their shoes,
and warm smiles to welcome them in your name.
Give us such generous hearts,
that our church becomes a foretaste of heaven
here every soul you send us finds their loving home
in the community of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

(From ‘Everybody Welcome’ by Bob Jackson and George Fisher)

Joan H