Hope, a word I hear and may use daily. “Hope you have a great day” “Hope to see you soon”. “I hope all is well”. Hopefully we can…….”. So what is it that we are wanting the word “hope” to mean when we say it? I often find it being used in place of the word “wish”. However, the word “wish” is based more on chance. “I hope I win the lottery” The use of the word “hope” in this contexts robs it of its more confident and certain meaning.
Many dictionaries describe the verb of “hope” as looking forward to something with a reasonable confidence. It is also described a a desire or trust that something may happen.The verb form of “hope” that I obtained from the Online Etymology Dictionary website describes it as: “have the theological virtue of Hope; hope for (salvation, mercy), trust in (God’s word),” also “to have trust, have confidence; assume confidently or trust” (that something is or will be so)1.
I describe hope as faith with perseverance. It is a trust in God’s word and His promises. Faith and hope work together and strengthens our spiritual walk. Hope is the bridge between where we are and our faith in God’s will. Hope is the foundation by which faith is realized.
1. Online Etymology Dictionary. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=hope&allowed_in_frame=0
I have noticed that in some of the churches I have visited, there is a effort to get more people into the church. Of course, this has always been the idea and part of the Great Commission of Christians. However, it has appeared to me that these efforts have become a more open focus and intent of churches (This is a good thing). My church has the outreach motto: Connect, Grow and Serve . Another church I had visited has the slogan: “Found People, Find People”. These concepts are expressions of the efforts being placed on having people come to the church and to ultimately know Christ.
Churches have really extended themselves to be more visible in terms of welcoming the community (non-members of the church) to their services. These effort range from sponsoring community events, participation in community events/activities and simple invitation cards to their services. I think this is key. The church needs to be a recognizable member of the community. I could devote a significant amount of time fleshing out the church in the community, perhaps a topic for another post. I will not digress and remain on topic: “Welcoming”
So this “Welcoming” stuff is just as it sounds. Welcoming people to your church, home, group, activity and etc. in a way that relays a sense of comfort. A place where they feel respected and important. The environment must provide an atmosphere that is inviting and non-alienating (We could add a ton of other things that facilitate the welcoming, but I think this will do for now). I believe one of the key components to the welcoming process of the church is for the greeters of the church (the entire church body) to have their game face on, ready to welcome people. That game face is nothing more than a smile…a sincere smile. One that says; “I’m glad to see ya! I’m happy you are here”.
For those of us who may be part of a church, we may already do some sort of welcoming or offer encouragement for others to attend our churches. However, we can be a pretty scary bunch of folks, at least from the perspective of the non-church goer. Don’t let that statement get you bent out of shape. You may very well be doing a great job in getting people to attend the church and that is awesome! My point being, as people of the church, we often articulate, make statements and use language that may be foreign to a person not accustom to hearing “church talk”.
As Christians, we use language in the church that differs from language we may use elsewhere. For example, I do not use the word “Fellowship” outside of church, unless I’m talking to others of the church or about the Lord of the Rings. At times, we may need to consider how we might sound to those outside the church; after all, the ones outside are the ones we want to come inside. “Come join us for worship“. “Later, we will have fellowship after the service and you can meet the Pastor and others”. “Have you been saved?” Are you born again?” Are you a believer?” These are just a few of the words and statements that can be scary and off-putting to a new or potential church goer. These words can inadvertently alienate or scare a person unfamiliar with the church (speaking from first-hand experience).
I created a new website for my Life Coaching. Check it out! johnstonchristiancoaching.com . This is a new venture for me, so I appreciate your support.
I will focus my attention on hermenuticial discussions and Christian growth. Coming up…Welcoming: The Church’s Efforts to Connect, Grow and Serve.