Sunday was a very welcoming day for me. I visited a church plant in Puyallup, WA to video the service for a project, and I went to a birthday party at a friend’s house. Both were a strong and clear example of what it means to welcome people, allowing the opportunity to be known.
Ironically, churches can be very unwelcoming. I have experienced my fair share of “closed” communities in the past, mainly from some of the bigger names around town, but Renovo Church in Puyallup took the prize for “Most Welcoming Church.”
Like a lot of church plants in the northwest, Renovo meets in a school gym, which has the potential for allowing awkwardness and the nomad-mentality to overshadow the welcoming spirit of the Gospel of Christ. However, the minute I walked through the front doors, I was welcomed, received eye-contact, smiles, handshakes, and was asked where I was from.
I originally thought the welcoming spirit was due to the fact that I was carrying a video camera-mounted tripod with me, but time would prove me wrong, as more and more continued to interrupt my work in order to welcome me and say hello. During communion, as I wandered the sidelines getting footage, I was even remembered and served communion. That meant a lot to me.
Throughout the morning, some even began to tell me their stories. I heard of one man’s journey from a prison camp in World War II to the laboratories of NASA and the impact that had on his faith. I heard of a student’s pursuit of video production in a local community college and what he loves about video. I heard stories of faith, but most importantly, those stories were about life. As I was welcomed, I started to understand that to be welcomed is to be invited into the pursuit of knowing one another.
Fast-forward down I-5 to my friend’s backyard. When he saw that I had arrived, he shouted, “Chris! Everyone, this is THE Chris Martin.” The room of roughly 15-20 people responded: “Hi Chris!” People that I knew welcomed me, people that I didn’t know said hello. I felt welcomed.
Again, the reality of being welcomed led to several conversations regarding my blog, as well as my video series Innovators of Vancouver. As my friend welcomed me graciously, people were able to make a connection, and let me know that I was known to them, and vice versa.
One of our deepest desires as human beings is to be known by others, that is why it is so important to be welcoming when people enter your homes and communities. As I smile thinking of the conversations I had yesterday, I feel known, which in turn, leads me to a feeling of love, and a desire to make sure that I am as welcoming as the examples of the people of Renovo Church and my friend.