DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: I know you tell people to go to church, and I started going a few months ago hoping to find some new friends. But no one even speaks to me and I just feel like an outsider. Why should I bother? — L.M.
DEAR L.M.: I’m thankful you want to go to church, and I’m sorry you haven’t felt welcome in this particular congregation. One reason I wanted to reprint your letter is to encourage church members to do more to make visitors feel welcome. The Bible says, “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:9).
Nevertheless, I hope you’ll not be discouraged, but that you’ll persevere and find true friends, either there or elsewhere. God loves you and he wants you to discover this great truth and make it part of your life every day. One way this happens is through a church where Christ is preached and lived. If you have never done so, begin your journey of faith today by asking Christ to come into your life.
Then ask him to lead you to a church where you can grow spiritually (and even socially). Don’t judge a church only by its weekly worship service. Instead, ask the pastor or someone in the congregation about other activities — a Bible study, a prayer meeting, a volunteer service project. God’s will for every church is that “your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing” (2 Thessalonians 1:3).
In addition, ask God to help you reach out to others in your church, even as a visitor. Don’t wait for others to speak to you; take the initiative to speak to them. Lonely and hurting people are found in almost any church — and God can use you to encourage them.
Tribune Media Services 7/2