The “welcoming time” has become a fixture at churches across America, with the goal to make visitors comfortable and to give regulars a time to visit during the service. Time before the service is often hectic as people arrive late, are jostling to find seats, and perhaps reading the bulletin. Afterwards, it’s common for people to leave quickly, heading out to lunch or other activities. Although both of these times could, and perhaps should, be times for the same kinds of activity as the welcoming time, the reality is that it generally doesn’t happen. So, the structured time within the service provides a time to visit when everyone is settled.
However, anyone who pays attention during this time, and especially anyone who has experienced it as an uncomfortable visitor, knows that not everyone experiences it the same way. The meek visitor full of questions has a much different experience than the gregarious “old timer” who seems to know everyone there — they clearly are not equal in their ability to interact and benefit from that time.
Such differences bring to mind a passage from James that, although focused on money, may offer some insights to make this time even more effective. Continue reading