When I was a minister in Nottingham we had free evangelical church around the corner from ours but it would be fair to say that a good proportion of our parishioners would not have been welcome there, for they were sinners. Indeed, I see many a church notice board that says, “All are welcome” when that clearly isn’t the case. Perhaps a notice that says “We welcome people like us” might be more appropriate.
I cannot remember how I received it but this welcome notice is out there on the internet. I don’t know if it is a true notice or not but it makes for very interesting reading about our welcome to people not like us. I share it below:
At St ???? church we extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, widowed, gay, confused, dirt poor or just comfortable.
We welcome wailing babies and excited toddlers.
We welcome you whether you can sing like Pavarotti or just growl quietly to yourself.
You’re welcome here if you’re ‘just browsing’ just woken up, or just got out of prison. We don’t care if you’re more Christian than the Bishop or haven’t been in church since Christmas 10 years ago. Or never.
We extend a special welcome to those over 60 but not grown up yet, or teenagers who are growing up to fast. We welcome junk-food eaters, vegetarians, tree-huggers, and latte drinkers.
We welcome those who are in recovery, and those still addicted. We welcome you if you are having problems, down in the dumps or don’t like ‘organised religion’ (we are not that keen either)
We offer a welcome to those who think the world is flat, don’t work, work too hard or can’t spell.
We welcome those who are pierced, inked or neither.
We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, had religion shoved down their throats as children, doubters and you, whoever you are!
That is a lot to live up to but it definitely makes you think, are we truly welcoming of all or just people like us.