it happens. we forget. we put ourselves at the center. others get overlooked. but it doesn’t have to be that way!
as the summer winds down and school & fall ramp up, there is also a fairly significant movement (back) to church. And if our minds and hearts are ill-prepared, we’ll forget that there are new people stepping out in faith. if we aren’t prayerfully prepared we will get caught in the trappings our own returning routines and reuniting with friends.
To be the church in the best of ways, we must make others our focus. We mustn’t forget that folks are coming as a result of God’s prompting – maybe even searching for God in the midst of difficult life circumstances. In any case they will not only be looking for God, but looking for the people of God. They’re hoping to find a God that loves them, and they will largely make that judgment based on whether the people of God notice and seem to care for them. That’s us.
And we do well not to over-spiritualize our part. Except to trust God to equip and work through us, our success with others is intensely practical. People will be moved to be noticed and to see ones easily break away from their cliquey conversations to greet them. Come 15 minutes early, roam the foyer, look for ones you don’t know, resist the desire to hide in a comfortable conversation and put yourself “out there” for Jesus sake. Just one greeting is all we need from each of you.
New folks will also be impressed if there is a seat at the table for them. Can you imagine being invited for dinner to someone’s home and then being offered a seat at folding table in the basement? How different would the experience be if you were offered the best seat? Let’s offer the best seats to others – those would be seats in the back 1/2 of a room near the aisles. Slide, slide, slide yourself to the center front! Better yet – help the ones you meet to find a seat. Escort them in and ask if they’d like your company or not. Some will accept others need to know its okay to decline!
Finally, use the first 3 minutes following services to meet someone else (or to reconnect with someone you met before hand). Most new folks will leave quickly – so we must be quick and intentional. A simple “thanks,” or “can i help you with anything,” or “can i respond to any questions,” is plenty. Many times they will decline the offers, but it will mean a ton that you afforded them your time and the opportunity. Certainly we want to gather together each Sunday to pray and worship God and connect with friends, and we will. But the healthy church is a balanced church that always remembers it’s outward mission. Use the critical times to healthify the church!
let’s refuse to let it happen. let’s not forget. let’s join God and make the lost and returning the beat of our heart and the recipients of our attention. that’s the way. let’s go, church!