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January 4, 2016

Kingdom Hospitality in Microchurch

by danelyj

Last year an unbeliever was invited to one of our Greenhouse microchurches.  He agreed to come, even though he didn’t really know what to expect.  On the ride home afterwards, he asked a beautiful question to the microchurch member that was driving him home: “So is this what heaven is supposed to be like?”  

When Jesus was asked when the Kingdom of God would come, His reply was rather extraordinary when He said that “the Kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21).

The Kingdom of Heaven is supernatural and glorious. Words cannot accurately describe it, as is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” But God has revealed it to us by His Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:9-10a). Somehow, in God’s divine plan, the Kingdom of Heaven is manifested through us, His children!

As you know, at Greenhouse we truly want people to feel like they belong, before they believe, before they behave. It’s one thing to communicate the culture we want to embody, but it’s an additional ongoing task to create this culture within our microchurches, especially as our groups multiply.  Does your microchurch embody a supernatural and hospitable environment where anyone would feel welcomed?  And how has this supernatural hospitable culture matriculated into the DNA of your apprentices and members?  Do your members own the call to make everyone feel welcomed, or do they rely on you to be the welcoming committee?

Sometimes it’s good to step back and observe your microchurch to see what it would feel like as an outsider. Would they feel like they belong?  Here are a few practical ways in which your microchurch can make this a reality and create more of a Kingdom culture:

The Welcome Before the Welcome: Creating a Hospitable Environment Before the Microchurch Even Begins.

  1. Easy to find? Is your meeting location, as well as parking, easy to find? (Especially those that meet in apartment complexes with designated visitor parking spaces). A good idea would be to draw a map of your meeting place, with the visitor parking clearly laid out and gate code noted. Take a picture of it so that you have it on your phone to send out to visitors. Send it to your members, as well, so they can send it to their guests.
  1. Signage on door. While I was living in an apartment complex, each week we would write a welcoming scripture on a piece of paper taped to the door with a sentence saying something like, “Come on in! So glad you are here!” Not only did it help people feel welcomed and know that they were at the right place, but later on I discovered that the verses actually ministered to passing neighbors and maintenance workers who decided it was time to go to church.
  1. Is my microchurch a blessing to my neighbors? We not only want to love and serve well those that attend our microchurch, but we also want to be a blessing to our neighbors. Do they know that they are invited to join your microchurch? Are you respectful of the noise level, late nights, and not interfering with their parking space, etc.?
  1. Will visitors know what to expect? When a new person contacts you who is interested in your microchurch, or when you invite them, it’s good to communicate what your group looks like and the flow for that night so they feel more comfortable and know what to expect.

The Welcome After the Welcome: Creating a Hospitable Environment During the Microchurch

  1. First impressions. When a person enters your microchurch, are they personally greeted? What if they came in late during worship or during the teaching? Someone who enters late may already feel uncomfortable that they arrived late, and even worse when they don’t know what’s going on. What I’ve found helpful is to have one or two people as designated greeters for those that trickle in late. They stand near the door so that they don’t need to interrupt the flow of what may be happening, but can lovingly welcome them, explain what the group is doing, what the teaching is about, or where we are in the song, etc…
  1. Why are we singing? Does your microchurch automatically go into worship or has it been communicated what worship is and why we worship? Even if there isn’t anyone new to the group, communicating the purpose of why we do what we do matters and allows your members to hear it often and gets them more comfortable to also communicate this with others.
  1. What are we singing? If you do not already have lyrics available for people to see either on a screen, or printed out on a paper during worship, consider having this available so that everyone can join in worship, and not just those that know the songs. This task can easily be delegated!
  1. Give up your seat. Encourage your microchurch that when someone enters and there are no more seats, we give up our seat. Be sure to model this to create a hospitable culture that makes the newcomer really feel loved.
  1. Give up your Bible. Does everyone have a Bible before you begin the teaching? It may be a good idea to have a few extra Bibles available for those that may need one!
  1. Is everyone at the passage in Scripture? Many times during a teaching when diving into Scripture, I encourage others to read it aloud. However, I also encourage that we wait until everyone is there. I remember times as a new believer when I would get uncomfortable and nervous because everyone else seemed to know exactly which page to turn to in the Bible while I struggled, at times feeling embarrassed that I was still looking for the name of the book in the table of contents even though the person had already finished reading the passage. It would have been easier to keep the Bible closed and leave it to the experienced. But this is not the purpose of microchurch.  We want to encourage others to use the Bible. Those in my microchurch know that if they are sitting next to someone who is struggling to find the passage, they are expected to lovingly help them navigate through the Bible and not make it uncomfortable. It’s not about who can get to the Scripture first!
  1. Invite them to your refrigerator. We’ve talked about refrigerator rights during Leadership Pipeline, but how often is it mentioned and practiced in your microchurch? You don’t need to ask for a drink or to use the bathroom at your parents place because you are family. Do your members and guest know that you’ve given up your home for the Gospel, that every good and perfect gift comes from the Lord and it’s your pleasure to share those blessings with them, as well?

These are just a few ways to let hospitality be at the forefront of the minds of your members and a comforting presence for your guests.  What are some other ways in which you can bring heaven into your microchurch gatherings and create a culture and precedence for supernatural hospitality?

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