Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Decade of the Newcomer: Looking In The Mirror

Years ago my my music teacher was telling me about an out of state teachers meeting he was late for in attending. He was running up the stairs and saw the group in front of him sitting at the conference table already congregating for the meeting. So he hurriedly ran toward the group not really noticing that there was a man walking toward him as well. But, with his eyes focused on the meetings he was late for, he ignored the man coming toward himself and kept his eyes on the meeting already in progress. And then bam! He ran right into this man, face to face, and exclaimed, "oh, excuse me!" No sooner did he get those words out of his mouth he realized, it was actually a mirror he was looking into and the meeting he was walking toward was actually behind him as opposed to in front of him. Yes, he was face to face with his own reflection, his own face and yes, apologizing to himself. Needless to say, in his embarrassment he turned around and left the meeting immediately. Too funny and yes, this is something that would happen to me. This got me to thinking about our newcomers that come to CR. More often than not, they feel like the guy running into the mirror and when they realize what they see, they don't like it and turn and run. Do you remember the first time you walked thru those doors? Talk about feeling like a stranger in a foreign country. Awkward, embarrassed, feeling like "I don't fit in". Leviticus 19:33 reads, "If a stranger dwell with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him." The newcomer walking into your ministry feels like a stranger in a different land, so how are we making them feel. Do they feel our affection, love, acceptance, kindness, hospitality? Or do you find yourself grouping into the familiar clicks of those you already know. After all, the newcomer looks like they don't want to be approached, right? I can promise you, even if they look like that, they are screaming for someone to show them love and acceptance. "We as Christians are to demonstrate impartiality in our individual lives...We must increase our exposure toward those who are different (or feel different) in order to engender feelings of similarity instead of separation." Sabrina D. This is the Decade of the Newcomer in CR. If someone walks into your church, or your CR, do they feel like a welcomed guest, or an alien in a foreign land? Challenging for me to think about and making sure they feel like part of our family being invited over for dinner. "If you really fulfill the royal law according to Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself", you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors." James 2:8-9 Let's keep our eyes open this week for that first time visitor, not to smother them, but to let them know we are so glad they are here. A life change testimony begins right now. Who will you invite to the table this week? Rodney Holmstrom

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