‘You are Welcome’ proclaims our church website. And indeed you are, but that won’t necessarily convince you. It’s easy to imagine that the church is some kind of club and that anyone who doesn’t know the lingo or have the right background or credentials is going to feel out of place.
First let me assure you. If you came to any service in the village church someone would greet you, make sure that you had somewhere to sit and answer any questions you had. Our services are straightforward and we expect that there will always be some present who are ‘just looking’. If you brought children with you they would be very welcome too: one of our Family Support Team is always available to help and to offer an activity for children during part of the service, and there is always a room available for parents with restless children to escape to if they wish. The church has even moved with the times sufficiently to have a toilet and soft paper!
“But,” some may ask, “would I really be welcome? I don’t believe the things you all believe. My marriage was a disaster. I’ve not bothered with church for years. I don’t like singing. I’m not very religious.”
How would Jesus have received you? He was well known as a friend to all kinds of people. Jesus associated freely with those who were shunned by others, but he also had meals with the rich and powerful. He was ready to welcome anyone, but he never left people in any doubt that they had to come on his terms. The well-off were told to stop depending on their wealth. Swindlers realised they had to pay back what they had taken. Adulterers had to change. Strong men stopped sounding off and began to listen to him.
And Jesus still welcomes people into His church in exactly the same way. His welcome is genuinely and freely extended to all. You are not disqualified by anything you have thought or done because he can deal with all that, and with kindness. But Jesus still insists you must come on his terms. He demands the right to decide what you will or won’t do; he insists on interfering with your beliefs and opinions.