Orienting people to our congregations is about giving them a meaningful social experience so that they will not be lost socially, physically, spiritually – they will have a way to ‘anchor’ into the congregation and take the next steps in their spiritual journey in Christ
Some areas for orientation:
- The space: the physical setting and stuff or your congregation. Remember that you are orienting with a purpose—not just helping them find their way around (this is important!) but also attaching them to the congregation’s story
- The people/community: This is both about getting them connected to specific people and kinds of people AND about getting them connected to the personality of your congregation and community
- Our identity /theology: We are The Episcopal Church locally expressed in a specific tribe. Who is The Episcopal Church? What is that tribe?
- Experience / Worship: What have newer-comers just experienced? What did they notice? How can we help them interpret this enough to tell go forward to experience and learn more?
- Tour to include bathrooms, childcare, nursery, and classrooms
- Kitchen – and at the appropriate time, teach how to make coffee
- Artwork and other “stuff” and stories and connection to who you are NOW
- Special sacred places & objects: any devotional practices associated with these.
- Anything distinctive and different and what it says about the congregation NOW
- Introducing the newcomer to people who have things in common with him or her
- Connecting to rector, vicar or other clergy – yes, very important
- Any tidbit about the history and what it tells us about this people in the NOW
- Any connections between this church community and the neighborhood that says something about this people NOW. What is the role of this church in the community
- Partnerships with other churches.
- Any unique feature of The Episcopal Church that this community expresses
- A particular theological emphasis in the congregation
- Notable cultural identities
- What would newcomers have noticed? What can be said about what it expresses about the congregation’s identity NOW
Working on space and how you can orient people via conversation/comments about space:
On a piece of paper list places/spaces, physical features or “stuff” in your congregation that you might tell someone about. By each make notes about a story or some description that you might
mention about that place/space, physical feature or “stuff” that would say something about the congregation’s identity as it exists NOW.