Has anyone ever told you that you are friendly? Called you a gracious host? A warm welcomer? If not, then please read the rest of the article. If you are, I still invite you to attend our hospitality training Sunday, February 13th, at 9 am, in the St. Joan of Arc Teachers’ Lounge. We are forming Hospitality Teams that will welcome new-comers and guests to our two churches. The team will greet and engage guests as if Christ himself has walked through the doors. This effort will need to be more than one team. It will take a parish.
“Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.”Revelation 3:20
Think back to the first time you remember going to church. For many of us cradle Catholics, we are familiar without memory. Raised and molded by it, liturgy is part of who we are. We had our parents to familiarize us with it. We did not need to be welcomed or guided in our own childhood home; our parents nurtured us. For many newcomers, the experience of the liturgy is as foreign as Kazakhstan. At Mass, we speak, move, and act in unison. The Mass is not a good welcome mat for modern man but the summit of a life infused with grace. People are coming to our doors seeking God. We have guests who are left perplexed and confused. While education helps some, there is a deeper need that we can meet.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”Matthew 7:7-8
Our visitors come seeking Jesus. They see our devotion and love for our Sunday liturgies and want to know what it is all about. If a guest is not ready to receive Jesus in the Eucharist, we need to be even more prepared to receive them. Here are just a few things you can do to welcome them:
- Pray. Join Midtown Catholic’s Hospitality Team as they pray for our guests and for Becoming Catholic candidates during and before Mass.
- Be friendly. If you notice someone you don’t recognize, introduce yourself. Even if the newcomer is a Catholic visiting from another parish, you will do no harm in being friendly.
- Smile. Smile at the parishioners you know. Smile at the people you don’t. Smile at your loved ones and your enemies. Smile because God loves you so much that he died for you. Smile because he rose from the dead and cleanses us of our sins. Smile, and see how quickly everyone else will.
- Stick around if you don’t have a pressing engagement (First Watch, Le Peep, and Billy J’s don’t count). Consider talking to someone new in the atrium.
If you have any other ideas on welcoming guests, I invite you to join us on February 13th. Forming a culture of hospitality is a difficult task to start but will be a joy to maintain. We have likely done similar things in the past. We need to bring those ideas back along with fresh ones. Let’s make room in our pews and our hearts for Christ the guest.
TJ Simpson, Director of Evangelization