A second blog looking at the rest of our mission with Fane Conant.
Whilst Fane and Harry went off to the town centre to chat and share their faith, I was busy taking a wedding service.
Unusually it was a Christian wedding with the couple regular members of Bristol Vineyard Church. The wedding was a wonderful celebration where through the worship, sermon, prayers and the conversation the Christians there were unashamed of their faith and thought how attractive it looked, as they chatted to old friends and made new ones over tea and cake.
The couple had asked if we could help them by serving the tea, which just required a couple of volunteers to help us, to make people welcome… and yet to get people to help required me to have to beg on facebook.
Yet if we are to welcome people as we should, it will require sacrifice, and will be more costly that staying in our churchy cliques and bubbles, but in being this open and welcoming community we are “treating other people as we want to be treated” and we are forgetting that “a stranger is a friend we haven’t met yet!”.
It made me think for a moment about how much welcome and hospitality is such key part of mission and evangelism, making people feel wanted, appreciated and valued all resonate with the heart-beat of God himself, the God who runs to meet his wayward child with an embrace and a party.
As we came back I heard a great story of Fane and Harry and heard of a guy I know a little bit, who drops in occasionally to our very formal evening service. Harry told me (in his own unique style) to “make sure he gets followed up well!”
I wonder how much follow up fails because Churches aren’t as welcoming as they should be.
Interestingly a friend once said “I don’t want a “friendly” Church but rather a Church I can make friends in”.
The next day Fane was speaking at three Churchy services.
It made me think that how often do people wander into our Churches and yet not ever hear the gospel presented clearly? I remembered several instances where people who were yet to make a commitment (or had drifted away) came with me to Church and sadly it was a missed opportunity (and on some occasions a bit of an own goal).
Yet here three services got a clear gospel presentation, it made think that we talk so much of getting people “in Church”, but we forget that being “in Church” is not the same as being “in Christ”.
People who had been in Church for years took one of Fane’s books and seemed really interested in what he had to say, hungry for more of us talking straight about the cross, and the message that matters the most.
It made me think, do I preach the cross and the good news often enough? Am I clear enough?
If we want our Churches to grow and flourish, are we seeking the lost and welcoming them in? And maybe that welcome is wider than just a Church service? when was the last time you had someone around for a meal or invited someone for a coffee or to the pub?
As I thought further I realised that both of these components need to work together in becoming fruitful and effective for the Kingdom of God…