Welcome: Loving Your Church by Making Space for Everyone – Jen Oshman

Welcome: Loving Your Church by Making Space for Everyone by Jen Oshman
Also by this author: Gather, Belong, Welcome
Series: Love Your Church #3
Published by Good Book Company on January 1, 2023
Genres: Non-Fiction, Christian Life
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As we have been welcomed by Jesus, Christians are called to welcome others. But what does this look like in practice?

Walking into church can be intimidating, whether for the first time or after a period of absence, whether you are a non-believer or a believer. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if your church was a place where everyone received a warm welcome? A place where newcomers can quickly feel at home and where non-believers receive the welcome of God’s people alongside the welcome of Jesus?

This warm, practical book by Jen Oshman explores what the Bible says to help readers discover how to make space for others, however different they are to them, in their church and in their lives. She also gives practical advice, drawing on good practice from churches around the world in a range of situations. In a world of division, individualism, and isolation, readers will see that their church can witness to Christ by being a place of welcome, community, and connection.

Chapters include how Jesus welcomes us, the impact of welcoming in the early church, the effect of being siblings in Christ, how to welcome beyond Sunday, helpful systems and strategies, how our joy in Christ causes us to be outward-looking, and mirroring the glorious vision set out in Revelation.

Whether you’re a pastor looking to encourage your congregation to welcome others or a church member wanting to see unbelievers come to faith and help everyone feel part of the family, this book is for you.

Throughout this book, Jen Oshman shares biblical teaching and practical encouragement for how Christians can make their churches more welcoming to outsiders. She shares her personal story of coming to know Christ when a teammate invited her and her newly single mother to attend church with them, and she expresses hope and enthusiasm for how the church can welcome and help hurting people. She shares a general vision for why the church should be welcoming, and includes some practical tips for how churches and individual members can reduce barriers for outsiders and reach out to their communities. Oshman shares examples from American churches and congregations in other cultures, showing how churches can understand and adapt to their environment.

Welcome: Loving Your Church by Making Space for Everyone is part of the new Love Your Church series. Each book is by a different author and covers a core concept about investing in the local church. They are fairly basic in scope, and are best for Christians who have not thought deeply before about the role of the local church or their importance to its mission. People who have already studied and thought about the church a great deal won’t find anything new here, although they may find the books encouraging. This series is very basic, and doesn’t delve into more complicated issues facing the church today. The books are also primarily relevant for people in Reformed evangelical congregations, and do not include examples of other ways of doing church that would give this series a broader scope.

Overall, this book has a positive vision and some good advice, but I wish that Oshman had shared ideas for how churches can become welcoming to marginalized communities who may require specific accommodations and will not necessarily fit in with a church’s status quo. The brevity of the book prevents Oshman from going into detail about various special groups, but this book’s prevailing focus is on welcoming people to get them in the doors and integrated into church life, rather than changing things about your church to make it a truly inclusive place for people with different backgrounds and unique needs, who may struggle to find a church where they truly belong. I think this should have gone deeper, but many people will find this helpful as a starting point.