A Place to Belong
"For you are all one in Jesus."
Wednesday night I was at a conference talking about first time guests in the church. That night I thought about the people at University who go out of their way to make people feel welcomed and included. Thinking about those specific people, led me to consider the powerful message this sends those who walk through our doors for the first time. I have heard that most people make up their mind about returning before they ever hear the sermon (not sure how to feel about that). This implies that it has much more to do with a sense of belonging. When I talk with church members and regular attenders, they often share with me their excitement over the ministry taking place at University and their own sense of belonging. We believe that all people need Jesus and that everyone longs for a place to belong. I am convinced that University is called to build those kinds of bridges to our community. It really isn’t about getting people in the pews, it’s about introducing them to the amazing, life giving grace of Jesus and offering them a place to experience genuine belonging.
Let’s get even more intentional about being a welcoming church where every person finds a place of belonging and experiences the grace of Jesus through His followers. Beginning this Sunday, I’d like to encourage each of you to introduce yourself to someone you have never met, and continue this for the rest of 2018. Shake the hand of someone you don’t know, ask their name, and welcome them to University. Every introduction holds the potential for a meaningful relationship between you and that person or between that person and Jesus.
Just a few minutes before a recent surgery, the nurse gave me something in my IV so that I would not be “nervous”. It increased my desire to meet people. I vividly remember going into that operating room saying to every single person, “My name is Laurinda, I don’t think we've met yet.” The surgeon asked me, “Are you introducing yourself to every person in the OR?” I said, “Yes, I’m a Methodist preacher. This is what we do.”
Sharing the grace of Jesus with all people, and offering a place of belonging to everyone? Yes, we’re followers of Jesus…it’s what we do!