02 April 2012

Methodist and Elim churches join Baptists in giving visitors a BIG welcome this September

More churches than ever before are expected to give a BIG Welcome to visitors this September.

The Methodist Church and Elim Pentecostal Churches are taking part for the first time, alongside Baptists in England, Wales and Scotland, in the Free Church initiative the BIG Welcome. The initiative encourages Christians to 'invite someone they know to something they love'. This could be a welcome event or service at a church or an alternative venue like a restaurant or gym. The BIG Welcome is due to take place on Sunday 23 September 2012 but the resources are undated so can fit into the church's calendar when it suit them.

The BIG Welcome was started by the Baptist Union of Great Britain in 2010. Last year 3,000 attended church for the first time in the 280 churches that participated in the initiative. This year the resources are based around the parable of the prodigal son and have been designed to help churches think 'creatively'. One suggestion is instead of inviting people to a church service, churches could hold a different Big Welcome event like a curry night, a quiz night or a big breakfast for example.

Mark Wakelin, President Elect of the Methodist Conference 2012-2013, wants Methodist churches to take part. "I'd like to encourage you to be part of the BIG Welcome, and to be bolder and to trust that God can work through you, as he can work through me, in making people feel loved and wanted in a big wide world, where so much of the time we don't feel that at all."

"The BIG Welcome is a hugely important initiative," said John Glass, General Suprintendent of Elim Pentecostal Churches. "It is a catalyst for inviting friends and neighbours to hear and experience the message of the gospel at any time of year. I would encourage every church in the UK to embrace the concept of this great initiative and make it their own."

Ian Bunce, Head of the Mission Department at the Baptist Union of Great Britain, said "We are excited that this year we are doing the BIG Welcome in partnership with our friends from Elim and the Methodist Church. With resources based around the story of the prodigal, we are using the image of a puzzle piece to say to people, there is a space for you. We look forward to hearing the stories about how churches have used this exciting resource." 

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