By Brandon Lemons
Dear Friedens Family,
I love the phrase “Friedens Family.” Not only does it have alliteration that rolls off the tongue, but it describes well the dynamic of who we are and who we strive to be. We are not merely a group of people who gather once a week for spiritual nourishment and then disperse to our own personal lives. We are a family – brothers and sisters in Christ who care deeply for one another; who invest in one another’s lives and spiritual growth; who have meaningful, authentic relationships with one another; and who spur one another on toward love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24).
One really exciting thing is that there have been so many guests checking out Friedens in recent months. In fact, during the first three months of 2021, the number of guests is equivalent to, or even exceeds, our rate of first-time and returning guests in the pre-COVID world! On top of this, there are several other families who made Friedens their church home in the earlier months of COVID. Interestingly, because of the lower number of longer-term Friedens attendees currently attending in-person services, the percentage of people in a worship service who are new within the last year is much higher than in the past.
Besides simply wanting to inspire us with this update, I would like to encourage and challenge us to be intentional in getting to know those who are newer to the church. If you are attending in-person services and see someone you don’t know, introduce yourself and talk for a couple minutes. Ask a few questions to get to know them. Remember (or write down) their names for the following week.
I know there is an intimidation factor of stepping out of your comfort zone, and you may not know whether the person you are greeting has been at Friedens for one week or one year. Frankly, this uncertainty has always been the case for those who consistently attend the same service; without asking, it’s hard to know whether a person is new or has simply been attending the other service. But part of being a welcoming church family is reaching out and getting to know those we don’t currently know. You play a key role in other people’s experience at Friedens.
We hope that later in 2021, we will be able to bring back food in Fellowship Hall after services, which will significantly help with relational connections. But in the meantime, we can still offer a friendly welcome, and even a budding friendship, to those who are newer to Friedens!
God designed church to be relational. Friedens is particularly known for being a highly relational church; in fact, the second half of our tagline is “authentic relationships” (the first part is “deep roots”). Church is not like a movie theater, where everyone watches the show and then files out without interacting. We are a church family.
For His glory,