Lenny connected me to some great baklava. And a really great local beverage. And the best burger deal in Providence. But more than that, Lenny connected me to a church community that loved Jesus and took the Bible seriously.
We had found the church online. We didn’t know anyone there, but we tumbled out of the minivan with our kids. We weren’t sure what to expect. I think we were just hoping that our kids would make it through the evening service. As I walked through the doors of the church, a man who appeared to be in his late 50’s greeted me. It was Lenny.
He looked me in the eye and shook my hand. He asked my name and where I was from. Whereas some people ask for these details like you’re applying for a license at the kiosk at the DMV, Lenny asked these questions with an unobtrusive warmth that I found engaging. When he found out that I was only visiting Providence for a couple weeks, his interest didn’t wane. He immediately jotted down some of the things that I had to try while in town (it didn’t hurt that Lenny turned out to have good taste).
Even for an introvert like me, I found that Lenny struck the right balance of being interested without being intrusive.
One thing that stood out to me about Lenny was that he was a natural connector. In that first meeting, he invited our family to join members of the church catch the Fourth of July fireworks after church. We declined (remember: introvert), but I felt valued by the invitation. It was the next week that Lenny invited me out to that burger place so that I could meet some young men at church. They each took time to introduce themselves and Lenny had them briefly share how they came to faith in Christ. I not only felt welcomed, but now I was being spiritually encouraged too as I was being told brief stories of God’s goodness.
We went back to that church the rest of our time in that city and that initial welcome at the door was a big reason why. A warm, well-placed welcome encouraged my family to move toward this Christian community. Maybe you’ve experienced something similar.
This welcome is not only something that happens before the service. It’s also—critically—something that happens after the service. It happens in the moments after the service concludes and a visitor makes the decision whether to dart for the door or stick around for a few minutes. It happens as the visitor’s eyes scan a sea of unfamiliar faces in the narthex. And it happens the next day when a follow-up phone call is made to thank the person for joining us for worship.
A warm welcome can make the difference between someone moving toward Bible-based, Christ-centered community or drifting from it.
So, one thing that I’d love to see happen at Harvest is to develop a more robust welcome ministry on Sundays. While it’s the job of the entire congregation to be hospitable, I’m looking to train and develop a couple teams of people who will help lead the congregation in a ministry of welcome before and worship service.
This is a ministry that is still being developed, but as a first step I’m looking for people who would be interested in serving in this way and helping to move this ministry area forward. We have a need for different gifts and interests to serve in different roles. The primary qualification is a love for people and an enthusiasm to see people connected to Christian community at Harvest. If this is something you’re interested in or you’re looking for a place to serve at Harvest, would you consider taking this 60 second quiz to see if you might be particularly suited to help our congregation become more welcoming on Sundays?
Together, let’s work to make Harvest a place where people—visitors, regular attenders, and members alike—are increasingly welcomed and drawn into community where they can know Christ and grow in Him.
See you Sunday,
What I’m Reading
The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny, and Murder by David Grann – Honestly, this book may have had one of the most intriguing descriptions that I’ve come across. The book is a remarkable story of survival and the human spirit—both its strength and the darkness hidden within.
Rescued Skills: Essential Skills for Restoring the Sexually Broken by Deepak Reju and Jonathan Holmes – I referenced this book in last Sunday’s sermon. I think this has been one of the most helpful books that I’ve read this year. There are many books about pornography written for the struggler, but this book’s contribution is that it’s written for the person discipling someone through a struggle with sexual sin. I’d highly recommend.