“Welcoming People Isn’t Enough”

A few years ago the father of SPC Joshua L. Omvig spoke before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  His concern was the way we as a country bring back our troops and assimilate them into civilian life.  Here is part of his speech, “Josh’s company went from Iraq to Thanksgiving dinner with their families in less than a week.  One or two weeks of decompression or defusing is not enough.  This however, is more the rule than the exception.  A few days later Josh was back to his civilian job.  There was no one around for him to talk over things with.  After a week or two of being home reality starts to set in, things are not the same . . . The first counseling Josh’s company had came at the first drill after Josh’s (suicide).” I don’t know the whole story, but I can picture Josh’s return from Iraq as a grand event.  My guess is that the whole town came out to “welcome” him home.  But in situations such as war, being “welcomed” is not enough.  Soldiers also need such people as counselors, chaplains and peer groups to help them deal with the emotional and psychological effects of serving in our military. The same is true with the church.  Because we are in a spiritual battle with the forces of evil, “welcoming” people in the name of Jesus Christ is not enough.  We must also be willing to train, prepare and equip them with the tools for victory.  “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds”(2 Cor 10:3-4). One of the things I would like for us as a church to work on is becoming a congregation that not only welcomes people, but assimilates them into our fellowship, our study of the Scriptures, and our works of service.  Here are some simple ways we can do this. 1) Inviting people to church is only the first step.  We also need to invite them to Sunday School, a small group, as well as to other studies of learning. 2) If you see someone you don’t know on Sunday morning, don’t be shy.  Ask them how long they have been coming, and if they are new then introduce them to at least one or two other people.  Ideally, introduce them to people who they might naturally associate with.  For instance, if they have children introduce them to a church member with children.  Or, if they like music introduce them to one of our talented musicians. 3) Read your newsletter, bulletin and weekly e-mail thoroughly so that you can tell others what is going on at our church.  You may not be a teenager, but would you be able to tell a new family what our youth are doing?  If a mother is looking for a small group, would you be able to direct her in the right direction?  Sure, it takes a little time and commitment to read such things as the bulletin and newsletter, but I think you’ll find that it is worth it. God Bless, Pastor John