My September column for The Bellringer, the monthly newsletter at my internship congregation (St. Peter Lutheran Church in Dubuque, Iowa). Enjoy!
Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. – Romans 12:13
I’ve been thinking a lot about welcoming people into church.
Like perhaps many of you, I’ve grown up in the Lutheran church suspect. I know the Lutheran liturgy, what to expect when I walk into a worship service. But, when Christin and I moved to Dubuque two years ago, even as lifelong church people, visiting different churches was intimidating in a way I didn’t expect.
I wonder, what about those who are less familiar with how we do things? What about those visiting from elsewhere, or those not churchgoers at all? I don’t think we realize how much courage it takes to step into a church and participate in a worship service.
I’ve been watching the wonderful Centennial Celebration DVD about the history of St. Peter Lutheran Church, and one interview quote stood out. Rev. Bonnie Jensen, pastoral assistant here in the 1970’s, remembers, “We have a history here of welcoming, of transforming ourselves, remaking ourselves, into a people-centered ministry. We experienced that at St. Peter. The people were what were important, not the rules, how you did the liturgy.”
What a wonderful legacy! I know I’ve experienced the welcoming of this community firsthand. Thank you to everyone who has welcomed Christin and myself!
Have you had a similar experience, either of being welcomed here, or of visiting another church? What can our congregation do to continue welcoming people? How can we make visiting or joining this church easier for others? I’d love to hear your experiences or ideas.
Daniel Flucke, Pastoral Intern