How Do You Say, “Welcome to the Family”?
This past Christmas season brought a different gift to our family. No, not a little bundle wrapped up in a blanket; but instead the official declaration of my three foster nieces and one nephew as Barretts!
This was a big deal for many obvious reasons, one of which was how long we had waited for this BIG day. The answer? 2 years, 7 months and 1 day (not that anyone was counting).
The foster-to-adopt process has a lot of steps, as you would imagine, so the timing can be much longer than you wish it to be. But, after months and months of waiting, my brother and sister-in-law finally got the call: the adoption hearing had been set!
So, in celebration and support of this joyous event, a large group of family and friends met in a small court room to hear the judge say those magical words, “I hereby grant this adoption.”
So, what does this family experience have to do with your ministry? Well, I’m glad you asked!
In our ministries, we routinely (I hope) welcome new believers of Christ into the family along with other believers who may move to your community. So the question is this: Do we really make a BIG deal out of these additions to our ministry families? And what does that look like?
My family’s foster/adoption experience brought these thoughts to mind:
- It involves many people along the way.
Since meeting these kids 2 ½ years ago, many people are now a part of their lives. They now have a big sister. They have grandparents. They have an aunt who is crazy about them and countless cousins and extended family. They have best friends in school. They have Sunday School and Awana teachers who pour into them every week. Becoming a member of the family has involved many people—and each has had a role in helping them grow, feel secure and be loved. In our ministries, how intentional are we in the people and events we introduce to our new members to help them become a part of our family?
- It’s more than an event—it’s a process.
From the day these four kids entered our world, a process began. It involved case workers, paperwork, and progressive steps toward getting to know each other. For everyone involved, the best interests and future of four kids was the priority. We know these kids in a much different way than we did 2 ½ years ago. Becoming a part of a family takes time. In our ministries, what does that process look like? How do we introduce new members to our family? How do we help them learn and understand the heartbeat of the ministry, that sense of community and information that helps them determine if your church family is the place for them?
- It’s important to celebrate.
Many smiles, tears and hugs filled the courtroom that day for our kids. And even though in our hearts, these kids had been part of our family for over two years, it was so important to celebrate and commemorate the official adoption day. It was a party and anyone who happened to walk by knew we were celebrating something great. Do we do the same for and with our new members? As they become new members of family of believers, how do we celebrate—not just with new members but include the entire church family. After all, there is a new brother or sister to meet.
We can be so instrumental in the welcome and assimilation of the people who pass through our ministry doors. So, let’s dust off those welcome mats!
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