Becoming A Welcoming Church - Part 7
I've been an ordained pastor for 39 years and 6 months. That doesn't make me an expert on anything. It does mean I'm getting older and I have gained some experience. And in those 39+ years I have heard some oft-repeated complaints. One that affects our ability to be a welcoming church is this:
"We need more ushers."
I'm not sure I do my job very well so who am I to tell others how to do theirs? But...I will make a few observations. First, in most churches the ushers don't really usher. Instead they typically talk to each other like fraternity brothers, hand everyone a bulletin, and collect the offering during the service. How many ushers does that take? Truthfully, a church can have a fine service without them. Bulletins can easily be placed on a chair or table so each worshiper may pick one up as they come in. And offering plates can be placed at each door so people may make a contribution as they enter or leave. Problem solved! Suddenly no ushers are needed!
Well, not so fast. Ushers who will warmly welcome worshipers, hand them a bulletin, engage them in a brief conversation, and escort them to their seats are absolutely invaluable. This is a hallmark of a welcoming church! Like every other area of ministry, ushers can do the bare minimum or go "above and beyond" in welcoming people to the church. I realize that our aisles are tight right now and it's not an easy thing to escort people to their seats. But this will soon change and we should help everyone, especially the visitor, feel welcomed, loved, and respected, by going above and beyond the bare minimum.