26982_000_013Liahona and readers’ responses are intended for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.
“My friend doesn’t feel that she fits in. What can I do to make her feel welcome at church?”
The Lord is pleased when we attend church, so it’s important that your friend feel welcome there.
Introduce your friend to ward or branch members, and invite her to Church activities.
Do the small things that will help her feel welcome, like saying hi when you see her and sitting with her in classes and meetings.
Tell your friend she will enjoy church if she makes an effort to feel the Spirit there.
If your friend has been offended, help her understand the need to forgive.
You can better help your friend if you know why she feels that she doesn’t fit in. If she’s uncomfortable in a new environment, it may just take some time and some friendshipping before she feels comfortable. Just make sure you and others at church help her feel welcome.
However, if your friend feels that she doesn’t fit in because she feels unworthy or because someone at church has offended her, knowing that will help you know how to help her. Anyone, worthy or not, can attend church. All Church members are imperfect people, but we attend church so we can learn to be better people. If your friend feels unworthy, encourage her to speak with the bishop or branch president.
Unfortunately, some members offend others. If someone has hurt your friend’s feelings, you can teach her about the peace that comes from forgiving those who offend us. You can also pray that her heart will be softened.
No matter her situation, let the Golden Rule guide you: treat your friend as you would like to be treated (see Matt. 7:12). If you felt that you didn’t fit in at church, what would help you feel welcome? Would you like someone to sit by you? Show you around? Say hi? Those simple things may be all your friend needs.
Tell people in your ward or branch that your friend needs a special welcome. Introduce her to the bishop or branch president, Young Women leaders, her Sunday School teacher, your friends, and others she might share an interest with. They can help you show her around at church, explain the meetings, and let her know about upcoming activities. As you and others include her, she will begin to feel welcome.
These efforts are important because they will let your friend know she is in the right place. It’s the Lord’s Church, and He invites everyone to worship and learn of Him at church (see D&C 59:9–10).
Members of the Church are taught to have “their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another” (Mosiah 18:21). When you and others help your friend feel welcome, you are helping her feel the Lord’s love. Remind her that nothing can separate her from His love (see Rom. 8:35, 38–39), not even a feeling that she doesn’t fit in. Your efforts to welcome her and her efforts to worship the Lord at church will help her feel the Spirit and the Lord’s love, and that will help her know she belongs.
I would not only pray for her but also fellowship her by inviting her to activities such as sports and devotionals. I believe that if you will do these things, she will feel that she fits in at church. Kesaia Lupe Matu, 19, Ha’ateiho Third Ward, Nuku‘alofa Tonga South Stake
You and your friends need to invite this girl to spend time with you. I have moved many times, and I almost never feel like I fit in. But when a group of people tries to be my friends, I feel like I fit in at church, school, Mutual, and almost everywhere else. Just invite her to spend time with you and your friends, and she will grow spiritually and get involved in the Church. Nelsen E. Witt, 15, Centennial Park Ward, Syracuse Utah Stake
It’s natural for your friend to feel this way because she may be unfamiliar with Latter-day Saint services. As a friend who has a testimony of the Church, you have to act fast and help her overcome her barriers. Try these ideas: (1) Arrange with members to always shake hands with your friend and sit with her during meetings. (2) Help her develop friends in the Church. (3) Ask teachers of the classes she will attend to help her feel welcome. (4) Pray for her to feel the Spirit. Elder Christian Oye, 23, Nigeria Port Harcourt Mission
Pray for her. Ask the Lord for advice as to how to act with her. I advise you to be with her the whole time she’s at church. Maybe on Saturday you could get together with some of the youth so that she can get to know them outside formal surroundings. Beatrice Trois, 18, Quartu Branch, Sardegna Italy District
One important thing is to invite her to come more often to Church activities. It’s also important to ask your friends to accept her and to pray to Heavenly Father to help her feel welcome at church. Justin Dussere, 13, Salon Ward, Nice France Stake
Church activities are designed to help all members and investigators feel at home and bond together. At activities she can gain more friends and she will feel a sense of belonging. Treat her as a special friend and introduce her to your friends, and your circle of friends will grow. Gretchen Monticalbo, 18, Albuera Ward, Ormoc Philippines Stake
Pray for your friend so the Spirit touches her with your testimony, your example, and your love. Speak to her about the joy the gospel brings to your life. Your friend will have the desire to know the Church and to feel accepted there. Vanessa Teupoorautoa, 19, Hipu Branch, Raromatai Tahiti Stake
I would talk to her and ask her why she doesn’t feel accepted. I would ask my Heavenly Father in prayer to guide me with His Spirit so I could know how to help her. He loves us. When we give ourselves completely to Him, we will feel this marvelous love in our hearts that can help anyone to overcome the fear of not being accepted. Meyling Fidelina Valle, 19, Ciudad Dario Branch, Matagalpa Nicaragua District
I would make a special effort to reach out to her. Having a friend would help her feel accepted within the Church. I would encourage her to pray to Heavenly Father so He could help both of us. I would share my testimony. Erika Susana Figueroa Herrera, 19, Sucre Ward, Atiquizaya El Salvador Stake