Dr. David W. Manner is the Associate Executive Director for the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists. He blogs at http://kncsb.org/blogs/dmanner . You can follow him on Twitter: @dwmanner.
Most congregations can answer affirmatively when asked if their worship welcomes those not like them…all are welcome if or when they come. Where the conflict arises is when a congregation changes its culture in order to be intentionally welcoming to those not like them. Welcoming worship loves my neighbor as I love myself even if my neighbor is not always lovely.
- Welcome is passive. Welcoming is active.
- Welcome is safe. Welcoming is usually risky.
- Welcome is occasional. Welcoming is frequent.
- Welcome may be accidental. Welcoming is always deliberate.
- Welcome is comfortable. Welcoming can stretch.
- Welcome happens on Sunday. Welcoming happens every day.
- Welcome satisfies givers. Welcoming won’t pay the bills.
- Welcome waits. Welcoming initiates.
- Welcome controls. Welcoming unleashes.
- Welcome tolerates. Welcoming embraces.
- Welcome hoards. Welcoming gives away.
- Welcome is preferential. Welcoming is sacrificial.
- Welcome focuses just on those who are present. Welcoming includes those who are not and may never be present.
Welcoming worship never compromises biblically, theologically, or doctrinally but often accommodates culturally, contextually, and systematically. Welcoming worship is not just what we do on Sunday, it is who we are and how we treat people out in the world every day.
Welcoming worship purposefully considers those who are often neglected and easily ignored. Welcoming worship affirms that, “He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God” (Prov. 14:31). Welcoming worship loves, honors and praises the Father by loving those He loves. Could worship be any more profound?