Upwell, Outwell, Open & Shut

In last summer’s church grab, I came across the churches of Upwell and Outwell. Both pretty villages, each boasting an historically interesting parish church. St Peter’s an Upwell was open, while St Clement’s at Outwell was locked up. One I could inspect and enjoy, the other forbade entry. There might have been good reason for the latter’s closure; bouts of vandalism, limited hours, lost keys to name just a few possibilities. I don't seek to complain about Outwell’s church wardens determining to keep locked, for our own Salem Chapel is locked most days also. Yet it provided me with a picture of churches in general.

A church should always be welcoming to visitors and outsiders, for it is by so doing that we can share with them the good news of the gospel. Having hopefully accepted it, they may join us. Making everything geared towards outsiders may of course compromise our commitment to truth and will dilute the experience of the mature Christian who desires meat rather than milk. Nevertheless, we should always have a care for welcoming the visitor, greeting the stranger and sharing our faith with outsiders. This does not mean never locking our chapel and ending each sermon with an altar call, but it does mean we should sometimes defer conversations with friends to get to know a newbie.