I was recently invited to visit another church for a special event. When I arrived, the folks that had invited me weren’t around yet, but I didn’t know that.
I went in and several people said hi as they passed by. Many folks smiled and nodded, but even more didn’t acknowledge my presence. Worst of all after about 10 minutes I was actually starting to get a little anxious. What if I was in the wrong place or something? I know I seem pretty confident, but I’m really less comfortable in new situations than you might imagine, and in this instance I was just starting to think about bolting when I finally saw a familiar face.
While I waited a lot of thoughts went through my head. Obviously some of them were centered around myself and my feeling of being alone. But others were focused on how others would feel if they were in my place.
Had I been someone who didn’t know Christ, I’d have left. In fact, even knowing Christ had I not have been meeting someone, I may have deserted the place. I didn’t know what room to go in, and not one person stopped to see if they could help me.
Then my thoughts turned to Sycamore Tree Church. As far as I can tell, this wouldn’t have happened at Sycamore Tree, but what if I’m so comfortable there, I don’t notice this kind of stuff.
I try to make sure I welcome every new face and even as many regulars as possible. But I’m up front early, in Sunday School late and often not available to greet folks, so as good as my intentions might be, I can’t make sure every person is greeted all by myself. And the truth is, I’m not supposed to. We are “the body of Christ.” We’re called to work together to welcome people into our family.
So, I created these four steps to welcome. Anyone can do it! I’ve shared them with my home congregation, but I thought if anyone stopped by my blog, they might be helpful for them too. So, read on and don’t forget, you may be the person who makes a difference in that visitor’s worship experience!
First, STOP! I know that seems evident, but most of the folks I saw who were very nice, nodded and smiled, but they didn’t bother to stop.
Second, offer a hand of friendship. Yep, just stick out your hand!
Third, tell the person you’re name. Maybe you’re afraid you’re welcoming someone who already comes to church. Don’t worry about it! If you don’t know their name, they probably don’t know yours.
Finally, ask “Are You finding everything alright.” See, it’s a simple question. Make sure they know where the donuts are on Sunday morning. If they’re looking for someone who usually comes, help them find him (or find someone who knows that person if you need to).
You don’t need to make it difficult or complicated. You don’t even have to draw it out a long time. We just have to make sure that everyone feels welcome. It’s what Jesus would do.