Magazine Articles


Church is great for those of us who attend week by week: the familiar walk up the path, being greeted at the door, sitting with a friend, knowing what will happen during the service and staying behind for a drink of tea and a catch up with lots of different people.

But for others who are attending for the first time or returning to church after many years, it can be a very daunting experience. For some it is only slightly less scary than a trip to the dentist! The church can seem like a towering castle, with a shark infested moat, the drawbridge up and the portcullis down. I knew a lady who walked up and down outside of church for several weeks before she plucked up the courage to go in.

Our task is to open the door as wide as possible. We do that by the warmth of our welcome, by inviting people to sit with us, by making sure the service is suitable for newcomers, and by chatting over a cup of tea at the end of the service. It’s a good idea to observe, at the end of the service, a three-minute rule, where you set yourself the target of speaking to new people or to someone you haven’t seen for a while. Research shows that new people often leave as soon as the service is over unless someone talks to them straight away.

So let’s do all we can to get rid of the sharks, let down the drawbridge, lift the portcullis, and widen the doors.