Belong Believe Become, a theology of welcome
It has been the tradition in many churches to follow a pattern of Behave, Believe, Belong in welcoming people into church. That is, first a person must behave to come to church, then believe and then they will finally belong to the church. This pattern was followed especially for young people of the church who did not belong until, finally, they were confirmed. When we look at the pattern of Scripture and Jesus’ welcome, the old pattern doesn’t seem to fit. Here at GF Rural Parish we have adopted a new pattern for welcome.
The first thing that Jesus says to his disciples after he was raised from the dead was “peace be with you” (John 20:19). He didn’t ask where they were or what they were doing in the three days since he was crucified, died, was buried and descended into hell. He simply said “peace.” It is a given that before you enter the door or become a member, you are already welcome in this place. There is grace abundant for you and your family where you are in your lives today. Our focus at GF Rural Parish is not numbers and membership, but being a place where people can come, hear the word of God, connect to a community, and be sustained in their lives. Grace is already given by God who is compassionate and merciful. Grace is already extended to you from the community at GF Rural Parish. You belong in this place whether you’ve been here all of your life or are just rolling in for the first time. Echoing the Risen Christ, we say, “Peace be with you.”
Here at GF Rural Parish you will hear God’s word, learn about faith and life, and receive the support of a community of faith. We have many different opportunities for you to worship and hear the word of God. We believe in a God who showed his love for us by sending his Son to die for us while we were sinners (Romans 5:8). We believe in a God who will not be separated from us (Romans 8:38-39). We believe that grace is a free gift from God and that by faith we are made right with God (Ephesians 2:8-9). We believe that this love and grace and mercy make us new people (2 Corinthians 5:16-19).
St. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation.” Faith fires our lives and changes the way we operate in this world. We become different (though not set apart) in faith. Martin Luther wrote “you can’t separate faith from good works, just as you can’t separate heat from its flame.” In our baptism we learn that our lives are to be poured out for the world, for our neighbors, and for our families. Our baptismal life pulls us out of our fears, inadequacies, and narcissism to compel us into the lives of our neighbors. We offer many opportunities to serve and grow at GF Rural Parish and welcome you into the life of faith.