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Now I know what it feels like to be someone who enters a church when they have little to no experience with church.  I gained this valuable insight the other day when I went to the opening of the university.  There was a religious service after the official opening at the cathedral across the street.  Most everything was in Finnish, of course, with a few English things thrown in for good measure here and there.

Overall, I felt a bit lost, even with a bulletin guiding me through the service.

This is a good lesson for me to learn though and I’m glad I experienced it.  It will be a good reminder to me when I am a pastor at a church.

Some questions that I’ll be able to ask myself and my congregation to ensure we are actually welcoming those unfamiliar with our church:

– If I were a visitor, would I be able to follow along with the service easily enough?

– If I were new to church, would I understand the “language” being used? (I’m not talking foreign language, but church language)

– If I were a first time visitor, how would I want to be greeted when I came in?

– If I were entering a church for the first time in years, what message would I receive about visitors and strangers just from coming in and sitting down?

– If I were new at this church, would I want to come back based on the experience?

– If I were visiting, would I see that the people there were alive or spiritually dead?

I know there are other questions that can be asked, but that’s a good start.  Now please don’t jump to the conclusion that the worship service at the cathedral was bad, it wasn’t.  It just got me thinking.