GraceConnect eNews, No. 180, Week of November 28, 2016


The eNewsletter for the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches
Intentional Hospitality

Everyone loves hospitality. But how much is too much? To Clancy Cruise, lead pastor of the Grace Brethren Church, Marysville, Ohio, hospitality is one of the most important values of his church. And he will do what it takes – even risk losing people – to stress its importance.

For years, Cruise and his wife, Sandy, have hosted a new attender’s dinner on a regular basis, opening their home and hearts to newcomers. But the hard work of making visitors feel welcomed and loved starts each weekend, during the church’s three services. 

“We try not to call it a break because [it makes it sound like] we're taking a break from worship,” Cruise explains. “We say, ‘We're going to take a ten‑minute fellowship time. But we have a special table up front for you. If you're here for the first time, then we'd like you to come up and meet the rest of our staff. We have a gift for you, we have a cup of coffee, we have special doughnut holes just for you.’ We joke about it. And sometimes we get a ton of people, and sometimes we get nobody, but we still show up.”

That’s only the first of the ways Cruise and other members of his team go out of their way to welcome visitors. Cruise assumes the role as the head greeter at the church doors each Sunday, working hard to remember everybody's name.

“Every [week], I personally write down the names of every single visitor that comes in the door. I have a welcome team member that I get them connected with. Then I announce their first name from the front.”

He notes that the face-to-face factor helps newcomers realize that he’s willing to put in the time to care for his flock. “I want to greet the volunteers, I want to greet the band, the children's ministry. They all get a look, a touch, or a wave. They see me on the job.”

He follows up with a thank-you letter the following week, but not before repeating the names on the guest cards that newcomers filled out to solidify the names of the newcomers in his head.

“If they come back, I want to be able to say, first of all, ‘You were here last week,’” Cruise stresses. I might even say their name. Is it to impress them? Yeah. But not only to impress them, it's also to say, ‘We want you to stay.’”

It doesn’t mean that every visitor stays. Cruise said there is always a chance that the openness that he and his church display sometimes does turn people away.

“I know we have lost people because of the pastor greeting at the door, the ten‑minute fellowship time, or break, the New Attender Dinner. We've lost people because of the intentionality.”

This dynamic – both boldly pursuing new visitors and being present with the church family that already exists – is the strategy that Cruise believes is most effective for having a church family that is unified and being used by God. 

“You're not going to come to our church and be a stranger. You're going to be known, you're going to be utilized, you’re going to be resourced. You're going to be part of this. That's what we're called to. It's been really hard, but we're hoping that those investments will pay off in the next generation.”

[Your Turn]


Dr. Randy Smith, pastor of
Grace Church, a Grace Brethren church in Sebring, Fla., writes an in-depth study of Ecclesiastes 5 in a recent blog post. The post is a part of a series entitled The Search is Over, exploring the words of Solomon. He writes:

"As believers and Jesus followers, some of us tend to add 'God words' into sentences of mere preference. We say 'I don’t think the Lord would be honored by….' in place of 'I really don’t like…' Some of us have learned to routinely supplement explanations of 'life moments' with words that muddy the waters of God’s true involvement and agenda. We say His name in a way that shows we don’t treat God with the care and reverence due Him – and we may not even be aware of it. That is a symptom of a larger problem – that of irreverence."

Click here to read the rest of the post. 


Melissa Spoelstra is a Christian speaker and author of several books, including Total Family Makeover; Jeremiah, Daring to Hope in an Unstable World; Joseph, the Journey to Forgiveness. Her recent Bible study, First Corinthians: Living Love When We Disagree, was recently released in print, and Abingdon Press (the publishing house that released her book) posted out a series of videos featuring Spoelstra in several teaching sessions highlighting the material in her book. Click below to watch the first one. Parts 2, 3 and 4 can be found here. Check out her other books here.

Melissa is married to Sean Spoelstra, pastor of
Encounter Church, a Grace Brethren church in Dublin, Ohio.

Events in the FGBC

January 20-21, 2017   WLS: Principles of Effective Bible Study, Orange, Calif. (WGUSA) 
January 27-28, 2017   WLS: Women & Scripture (Spanish), Bellflower, Calif. (WGUSA)
January 30-February 1, 2017   Southwest Focus Retreat, Lake Hughes, Calif. (FGBC)
February 24-25, 2017   WLS: Spiritual Formation (Spanish), Tampa, Fla. (WGUSA)
March 17-18, 2017   WLS: Women & Scripture, Roanoke, Va. (WGUSA)
March 13-15, 2017   South Focus Retreat, Haines City, Fla. (FGBC)
April 7-8   WLS: Spiritual Formation, Frederick, Md.(WGUSA)
April 28-30 –  Hispanic Summit, Atlanta, Ga. (WGUSA)
May 22-24, 2017   Northwest Focus Retreat White Pass, Wash. (FGBC)

FGBC – Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches
WGUSA – Women of Grace USA

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