Welcoming Church, Inviting Church

May God put on your lips the words “Follow me.” 

Father Bill

“Follow me.” Simple words spoken by Jesus to a number of people in scripture. Tax collector, fishermen and those who would be fishers of men, someone whose father had died, and likely many more not recorded in the Gospel narratives. To all who would be his sheep - to the good, the bad, and the ugly - he said, “Follow me.” They are his words of invitation into a new life, and they should be ours also.

I have been impressed by the enthusiasm I see at Good Shepherd in our welcoming of new and returning folks. We are blessed with some fine and friendly greeters and ushers who are doing a great job on Sunday mornings making people feel welcome. There is also a real friendliness here that we extend not just to those we already know but to folks who are new. We have prepared a beautiful prayer garden for their approach, an attractive church exterior, a comfortable worship space and excellent fellowship hall for gathering after the service. Well done good and faithful servants of Good Shepherd! Well done in creating a welcoming church! 

Now I ask that you think in perhaps a subtle but significantly different way about what we are called to be as a faith community. Jesus said “Follow me.” As much as Good Shepherd is a welcoming faith community, we must also be an inviting faith community. “Follow me” must also be words that we speak. When we speak those words, they might sound like “I see that your back hurts, come to our healing service on Tuesday night and let us pray for you.” “You appear unhappy and hurt by what you have experienced in church, come to Good Shepherd and rest in God’s love for you.” “You have a real gift for gardening, we could use that gift at our church, I would like to show you our gardens.” We are richly blessed at Good Shepherd with so many possibilities for inviting people into this faith community. Think of all that we have been given to share with others. Those are all opportunities for invitation. 

Coming up next month, we have a couple of major all-parish gatherings that I ask you use as opportunities for inviting friends. First, on Saturday the 21st at 4:00 pm we are having Low County Boil. Then, on Sunday the 29th at 4:00 pm the Bishop will be with us for Confirmation and a Celebration of New Ministry with a big reception to follow. I hope that you plan to attend these fun and festive occasions, and that you invite a friend or two. May God put on your lips the words “Follow me.”

Fr Bill+