Transforming lives on four continents

Seven welcomes and more to come…

Posted by Christine Kling at 10:30 on 21st October 2016

welcomeWelcome people for a meal
Last Sunday I was in the welcome team at church. To welcome people is a big responsibility – we are the first persons that a visitor will meet: we are waiting for them. Our role is not only to open the doors, find a free seat but also at the end of the service engage in discussion with them, share some information, ask for their names for further contacts and on the 2nd Sunday of the month invite them to stay at our church lunch!

Welcome diversity.
Churches in Paris area are multi-cultural churches. But diversity is not only a question of different cultures. We have time to time the visit of a man who lives in a care center for people suffering of mental diseases. I had a long chat with him at one occasion. He shared with me some stories of his life filled with depression since the age of 20. His train of thought is not always very consistent after years of treatment but he seems to have found some sense of peace and joy. His behavior is sometimes a little bit unpredictable le-smiley-aux-joues-rosesbut as long he does not disturb too much the service, we do not mind. Last Sunday he asked me but what are you doing here? I am the assistant pastor. So what does that mean? Do you welcome people at the door ? …perhaps not a bad definition of what a pastor is…

Welcome religious pluralism
In France religious pluralism is a fact and it seems to me impossible to live out our faith without engaging in dialogues with other communities. It is not always easy. Religious pluralism adds many meetings to an already busy agenda. Some of these meetings can at first look a waste of time or a little bit political – do we engage in dialogue with Muslims to please the local authority or as the true peacemaker.? . but time to time ideas are shared, and teams emerge.

Welcome new ways tologo share the Good news                             After years without evangelism our church has to re-learn what means sharing the good news. We’re currently experimenting on how we can use Alpha in a different format. We invite people met during our different actions – one member of the church has a big passion for street evangelism – to come to a breakfast on the Saturday morning and we use the Alpha resources to engage with them into some “theological” discussions. People are free to join and to leave the Alpha course at any point . I have also started to explore some concepts about Christians at the workplace with our young adult group and we have also the running group once a week.

5057360_origWelcome new ways to be with God
We had in October a week-end of spiritual retreat with some members of our adult group. The initial plan was to go to a place where they are used to run spiritual retreat but they had no more availability at that time. Our pastor asked me then to lead the spiritual retreat. Thanks to my spiritual discipline course at SBC, I had enough resources to put something together and we had an inspiring week-end learning and exploring some of the spiritual disciplines : meditation, lectio divina, self-exam, solitude and silence and praying the psalms. All that was new for our young adults. This WE was only a first step of exploring new ways of speaking and listening to God. We will have mid- November a mini 24*7 prayer week-end. The idea was born at the Convention when one person from our church discovered the prayer rooms. I had some hope that she might like the concept. We will be able to reuse some of the prayer stations from the Convention for our week-end of prayer and we really hope that will be an inspiring experience for many people.

TEAMbanner.jpgWelcome new ways to serve our community.
Our young adult group had the desire to develop our social actions and God opened the door on two opportunities. One is related to an association which helps disadvantaged people to find housing – that could be single parent, migrant etc. Some of my neighbors are members of this association for now many years and after some discussions with them I thought that we might be able to help on some of the tasks like moving furniture, cleaning, gardening and more. The second opportunity comes from a discussion with the pastor of a local protestant church. Near the church there is the Islamic aid center which does a great job for welcoming homeless women during the night but then these women have no place where to stay during the day. The pastor is willing to open her church during the day but for that she needs volunteers to help. All together we might be able to find enough volunteers for welcoming these women.

13710012_10208242295647687_2670772947670395882_nWelcome a new place of worship                          After months of discussion and prayers we found an agreement with a church located at 14 km of Massy which after flourishing years, was now dying and in need of a new vision and of pastoral support. The two churches will now work together, with me in the future dedicated to this church. We are very thankful to Go who inspired us to seek for new relationships. The area, where is the church, will see a lot of changes in the near future with the building of new housing but also universities and research center. The church has already a place of worship – an ecumenical building – which is a key asset in France as we can not use public buildings like in UK where churches can meet in school, college, or town hall.

 

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