First, consider several factors.
  • How interested are people in your church in interacting with people from different cultures? Are they afraid or apprehensive of the idea? Or are they already doing it?
  • How close to your church are people of different cultures? If you live in a largely homogenous, isolated, or rural community, it will be more difficult for people to intersect with other-culture friends.
  • Are partnerships in place or possible with local organizations that can serve as gateways for your church to enter local cross-cultural communities? For example, has World Relief or International Students, Incorporated placed a staff member near your church?

The answers to these questions will determine how much foundational work must be done for your church to become a community of welcomers.

Assuming your church is sufficiently close to a cross-cultural population, here are several stages of helping a church begin welcoming. Where is your starting point?

  • Begin praying for your church to develop a welcoming culture.
  • Identify what cross-cultural people live in your city. What group might your church begin serving?
  • Identify potential partner churches and organizations in your city that could serve as bridges into local cross-cultural communities.
  • Begin personal engagement with local cross-cultural people. Bring people along with you who might also be interested.
  • Begin looking for people in your church who might join you. Get your church’s permission to use the newsletter and website to find such people to form a team.
  • Once potential team members have surfaced, begin praying for and engaging in outreach. You may all reach the same people group, or you may individually reach different people groups, gathering to pray for your individual outreach.
There are several key times in the calendar year where it is especially strategic and fruitful to build relationships with international in your area:
  1. Christian-related holidays:  Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving - invite people over for food, coffee, whatever and explain the Christian perspective on these special days
  2. The beginning of the college/university school year: many international students need lots of help and sometimes actual furnishings for apartments, etc. as they move to a "foreign-to-them" country and get settled and foreign students in our schools
  3. School breaks:  many times foreign students are alone or even kicked out of their student housing during school breaks. They may need a place to stay or be available to spend time seeing local sites and historical places of interest. Immigrant families, without the structured schedule of schooling for their children, are generally more available to learn and build relationships.

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