"Remember, the word ‘evangelism’ comes from the Greek word euangelion and means good news!"
Our modern word "Gospel" comes from the Old English word "Godspell." In Old English, "god" with a long "o" meant "good", and "spell" meant "word.” So "Godspell" meant "good word," specifically the good news concerning the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In order to share this good news with those who cross our thresholds, we first need to practice a few other goods words:Hello! Good morning! Welcome to our church!
Speaking to those that we don’t know is vital. Not speaking is frankly, killing growth in our churches. Too often over the past few months I have heard and read stories about the unfriendliness of churches. “No one spoke to us,” is a refrain that is damaging and needs to be eradicated. Don’t invite your members to speak to others. Insist that they do so.
3 Ways For Parishioners to Practice Hospitality
Here are three simple things you and your church can do to welcome people and share the good news. Teach your members using the Deuteronomy 6:8-9 method:
Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
1. Welcome those visiting with you. At all events, and especially Sunday worship, speak to those you don’t know, invite them to join you at coffee and introduce them to others. Wearing your name tag is a sign of welcome – it removes the burden of remembering names especially for those who are news.
Practice: At the Peace or after church, have a “no-fault greeting.” This is where everyone must introduce themselves and speak to the people within a three pew radius. Even if they know them, they must say their name, shake hands and say welcome.
2. Invite your neighbors and co-workers to join you for worship or at other events. At the church where I work 80% of our Sunday visitors are there because someone invited them or brought them to church. I bet this is true at your church too. Some of our best evangelist’s are children and youth so encourage them to invite friends too. Many people are more open to a first time visit to a church event rather than a worship service. It is feels less intimidating.
Practice: At your first big event this fall, maybe a picnic or dinner, invite your members to bring a friend with them. If at all possible, waive the cost (if there is one) for the visitors. Encourage children and youth to bring a friend and the friend’s parents.
3. Incorporate newcomers and guests into programs and worship. Ask visitors and new members to attend a Sunday class with you, or sit with you at worship. You can also tell them about programs that you’re involved in and what that involvement means to you.
Practice: Make incorporation part of your Sunday greeter ministry. The Sunday greeters can also be responsible for bringing visitors to coffee hour or a class and introducing them. Sunday greeting doesn’t stop when the service begins. Do you have a newcomer or evangelism committee? Then they too are responsible for shepherding visitors. Teach them to do this, and they will model the importance and ease to others.
Remember, the word ‘evangelism’ comes from the Greek word euangelion and means “good news.” Evangelism is, simply, sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with others. It begins with hospitality to the stranger.
Carolyn Moomaw Chilton writes and blogs (Nellie's Garden) as a spiritual discipline and an invitation to conversation with others. She is currently on staff at Grace and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia as the Assistant for Evangelism and Stewardship.