There are some interesting dynamics that accompany a growing church. One of those dynamics is how you address visitors. First- there is the ubiquitous “would anyone visiting today please stand”. When I was new to the whole church thing, I thought that was how it worked. Why? Because that’s the model I saw. Someone stood up front and asked visitors to stand and be recognized.
It wasn’t until some time had passed that I began to understand that might NOT be the best approach. I mean, put yourself in their shoes. You finally get up the courage to visit a church for the first time. (And if you haven’t been in that scenario, it can take a pretty decent amount of courage!) You come in the door. You don’t know what to do or where to go. And in many churches, there isn’t much that will help.
Churches tend to have this unintentional “everybody knows everything” mentality. You know- “I know where the bathrooms are and what time the service starts, so everybody must know. I know what words like Narthex, Benediction and Eucharist mean…so everybody must know. I know when to sit and when to stand…so everybody must know.” And as I said, I have no thought that churches do that on purpose. It’s just human nature.
So, back to those new people- they come in, wander around and manage to find the sanctuary. The next problem is, “Where do I sit?” If you’ve ever been in a church…EVER…you know that spots in the pew are sacred. You run the risk of sitting in someone’s spot. And if you do, they might be gracious and find somewhere else to sit. But they might explain to you that they have occupied that particular seat for 47 years and they are NOT about to move now! (Don’t laugh- I’ve actually heard that…more than once!)
So, they find a seat and the worship service begins. They muddle through the opening as best they can, trying to keep up and not stand out. Not. Stand. Out. And then, usually during Announcement Time, someone is apt to say, “Do we have any visitors with us today? If so, please stand.”
Now, again, that is truly the most well-intentioned thing in the world. The church DOESN’T have as their goal to embarrass the person. Instead, they are delighted to have a visitor and want to make special mention of it. That’s the GOAL. But the reality is that, more often than not, either the visitor doesn’t stand because they feel too uncomfortable OR they DO stand..and feel uncomfortable!
We have “Welcome Bags” for visitors. We labored over what it should look like and what it should include. I was against a coffee mug with the church logo on it- I have a BOX of coffee mugs that have been given to me…somewhere. We wanted something that folks would be apt to A. keep and B. use. So we went with one of those reusable shopping bags. It’s the full-sized model- black with red lettering that includes the name of the church, the phone number, the web address and our “slogan”. (We exist to connect people to Jesus Christ.)
Inside, there is a clear plastic sleeve with three brochures: one on Worship and Spiritual Growth Opportunities, one on Youth and Children’s Ministries and one on Mission and Outreach opportunities. There is also two Prayer Stones, along with a slip of paper that explains that ministry. There is my business card, with a Post-It note attached that simply says, “Welcome! Rev. Mark” There is a fresh loaf of bread from our Bakery Ministry and a plate of fresh-baked cookies from our Caring Hearts Ministry.
The Church needs to make sure that we are willing to adapt to the times. Our message should be rock-solid and unchanging. But the delivery method for that message should be as flexible as possible, so that it has the ability to reach as many people as possible. Have I mentioned? I LOVE what I do!
We continue to focus on the glass being half-full. We continue to embrace each day with grateful thanksgiving. #TheGlovedAvenger #TeamHarris #WarriorOn! #Huzzah! We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. Check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post. Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!