Entry into a new sphere or arena can be a very intimidating experience. Like all of you, I have had many introductions into new phases of life whether it be schooling, careers, places where I have lived, or churches I have attended. Every single time I have experienced some amount of anxiety as I approached that new phase of life. I can remember walking into my very first doctoral class. I hardly slept the previous night. I was in a new city and about to attend a new seminary with new people and new faculty. And I did not think I really belonged there. I had serious doubts that I had what it took to be in a doctoral program. I figured I was out of my league and before long I would be discovered and shown to not measure up.
I wonder if as I described my experience, you felt again the butterflies of nervousness as you thought of a transition you experienced?
Fortunately, I discovered that virtually everyone else in my first class also felt like they were in over their heads. And my doctoral journey at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary turned out to be one of the most beneficial and life changing experiences in my life. But, maybe the transition in your life did not turn out so well. One of the reasons I chose to focus my doctoral dissertation on how we as the Church, the people of God, can help those not currently part of the Church to feel welcomed into the family is my own feelings of anxiety as I tried to find my place to fit in. I also saw this as an area where established church family members can often become blind to the challenges and barriers people new to churches experience. We can even look at new people as unwanted interlopers and disrupters of our status quo. Therefore, I chose to explore in depth what the Bible says about “strangers” and those who seem to be outsiders. And I found a treasure trove of truths that I feel can benefit your church as well as you personally. Join me as I post in the coming days and weeks some of what I have come to learn!