Sunday, August 16, 2009

Changing Scenery…

Things look a bit different, eh? We’ve talked about shifting furniture in the Narthex…excuse me, the Welcome Center, for a long time now, and it’s finally happened. Consider this your brief orientation.

We did this for one basic reason- Mission. In revitalizing our spaces for the Adopt-A-Room Program, we wanted to equip our church for mission as best we can. So we’ve freshened up the office, education and choir spaces to make them better organized, more attractive and functional. And the same is true for what we are now calling “The Welcome Center”- we equipped it for mission, which is especially important since no room in the church gets used for mission more. This is where Child Care parents drop off and pick up children; where both churches gather to greet guests and one another; where we prepare for and respond to worship. It’s also where ALL our kids and grandkids spread their wings and are joyful together. Given this high volume, it is the best space we have to communicate our mission and values. This is a blessing, demanding good stewardship, so we took months to plan. Here are some thoughts.

The word “Narthex” means something to churchfolk, but sounds like a code word to guests. If we’re serious about hospitality to neighbors, we must think about church from an outsider’s perspective. ‘Code’ can be intimidating. So let’s use hospitable sounding words, and ones that describe the space- “Welcome Center.” Bonus- this reminds us of our mission when we talk to each other!

A focused space (church) is an effective space (church). So we focused the Welcome Center into different regions, which we all must help to maintain and utilize. These regions are:

Hospitality Center- On the right, as you enter, we have a new Hospitality Desk. This Hospitality Center is large enough for guests to pause and have good conversations with Greeters. We will craft updated literature to give out, and are updating our Hospitality Strategy too. So, on August 30th, after service, we are hosting a Greeters Training. Please come, if you have been a Greeter, OR IF YOU WANT TO JOIN THIS IMPORTANT MINISTRY!

Mission Center- On the left, as you enter, we will highlight each month’s mission focus, as well as keep receptacles for food or other donations. Further, we are beginning a fair-trade coffee ‘store,’ whose proceeds will support Week of Compassion. I’ll talk more about that later, but for now, know that soon you will be able to purchase fair-trade, high quality coffee at the church- for less than at Cub!

Church Life Center -Where the coat rack once was, we will have a Fellowship Desk with info about current programs, sign-up sheets, etc. This Church Life Center will also serve as reception space for members and guests to fellowship. Please, as you use the space, be deferential to those whose bodies and joints may require rest more than yours!

Partnership Center- Where the coat rack is now will be used for coats (of course!), and as an information center for Thy Word. One of the difficulties in sharing space is a mixing of messaging and identities. So we’re providing Thy Word a dedicated place in the Welcome Center to inform members and guests of church activities and mission. Also, we’re putting back the Lost and Found!

There’s more, certainly, like repainting in coming days. And as a work in progress, I encourage you to bring me suggestions for improvement. Again, let’s thank Laurie, Donna, and Al, among others, for their brilliant ideas and hard work! Finally, please remember that the Welcome Center also serves to move folk into and out of our Sanctuary. So as you use this space in new ways, be mindful of our mission of hospitality. There are folk moving around, especially guests and visitors. Things are now well placed for you to welcome and get to know guests, introduce yourself and why you love your church, and show them a seat next to yours in the Sanctuary. Of course, not everyone can do this every week, but imagine a weekly competition for providing hospitality…Welcome Center, indeed!

Grace and Peace,