In Ireland, they lead with welcome.

Traveling through Ireland this summer, I was struck at the greeting I would receive when I entered a home or a cab or a pub.

The first thing out of my hosts mouth was, “You’re very welcome.”

Initially this was confusing to me because “you’re welcome” is usually a response to something I would do first, like saying thanks or appreciating a meal.

But there they lead with it. What they were saying was, “You are very welcome into my home, into my cab, into my pub.” They don’t welcome after you do something.

They lead with welcome.

Jesus was constantly welcoming people to his table, his life, his journey. He would welcome people with the words “Follow me”—people who were far from having life figured out, far from living the ways of God. As I heard someone say once, “Jesus welcomed people without a background check“.

“All of you are welcome, and all of you is welcome.”

There’s something about that … about being welcomed, being affirmed in my humanity, my dignity, my worth. It is one thing to cordially welcome me, but when you tell me that all of me – the good, bad and ugly – is very welcome here, I feel truly loved and seen by you, and by Jesus.

Recently I was walking my 18-year-old daughter through discovering a new church in another state. When you are looking for a church for yourself and your family, you tend to focus on the list of things that you like, the music, the teaching, whether they have this stance or this position, etc.

But something switches when your kids begin to look for a place. You narrow that list down to this one thing: would they find the welcome of Jesus Christ? It’s not as important to me about some of the finer theological points, the style of music, how long the services are, the shape of the building, as much as this question, “Will they welcome my kids?”

When God looks at Pulpit Rock Church I’m sure he sees a lot we are doing well, and a lot we could do better. But I wonder if the Father is ever looking at our church and wondering, “will they welcome my kids?”

What would happen if Pulpit Rock was the most unexpectedly welcoming place in Colorado Springs?

Where everyone – regardless of who they are or where they’ve come from – is welcomed in their humanity, their dignity, and their worth?

Could it get messy?

Would it create some tensions?

Would we be confronted with some conversations that we didn’t think we wanted to have?

But I’d rather lead with welcome. To let everyone, everywhere, know the message of Peter in Acts 2: the Gospel is for everyone.

Every church in the world starts with “Welcome guests, we are glad you are here.”

But what does it look like to be a place that leads with welcome? Where not only are all of you welcome, but all of you is welcome?

Where the thrust of our heart towards you is “You are very welcome, to this place, to this table, to this kingdom.”

Written by Thomas Thompson

Formation is a series of posts about ideas and truths God is using to shape us at Pulpit Rock.


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