James found Third Coast Church because he was looking for a place to improve his golf game. After a couple of visits to Third Coast Links, he (like many others) thought, “Hold on, this is a church??” Shortly after that, he decided to visit us on a Sunday and said he enjoyed the music, teaching, and friendly atmosphere. While I was not able to meet him during his first visit, he told me later that he could feel the presence of God from the first time he stepped foot on our property. So, it made a lot of sense to him that Third Coast turned out to be a church.

I was excited to see him come back the following Sunday and bring a friend. Little did they know, it was Pinewood Derby Sunday! They sat with other folks around one of our round tables during worship and were invited to stay for lunch and enjoy the races. I was finally able to sit down with them and chat a little bit that day, and James said they were having a great time and felt very welcome. The following week we were able to meet for a couple of hours and share some of our life stories with one another. He told me that Third Coast was a refreshing and welcoming community that God put in his path during a difficult time in his life. He has been away from community for a little while because of some tough things he and others were going through, but he felt that God was pursuing him. He may not have been looking for a new church, but God found him on the driving range, and through the kindness of strangers, encouraged him beside the racetrack to take a step towards a faith community again.

I am so thankful that our members create safe and welcoming places for people from all walks of life to encounter God through recreation, worship, and intentional times of community. There are thousands of people in our communities who may not be intentionally looking for a place to belong, but you never know what might bring someone a step closer to becoming our friend and following Jesus on a mission with one of our local churches. It could be as simple as inviting someone to sit with you, stay for lunch with you, or even just providing safe and welcoming facilities for recreation and refreshment. When we keep our eyes and hearts open to new friendships, we might just be a part of someone’s “welcome home” story.

Author: Pastor Aaron Brown