Church Sign Said, “We Love Visitors”
What is at the top of the list of places that you don’t like to have to go to do business? Everybody has those sites where the workers are disinterested, cold, or sometimes even rude. It makes me wonder when I am in one of those types of places if the person realizes that it is the consumer that pays their salaries. We are not interruptions. We are their livelihood. Someone ought to tell them. Don’t you agree?
Good. Because you might be surprised to learn that one of the places many people do not like to visit is church. Now before responding with “I don’t understand that”, think with me for just a minute. Churches can be very impersonal to those that are not “connected” through relationships. Long term Sunday School participants know those in their class. Music people know their peers. Mission’s travelers have their fraternal bond. Even those that just sit in the same seats in worship for decades know the folks around them. But, what about the person that just comes to visit? How many of those have we really made to feel wanted and welcomed in the average church?
Have you visited a church lately that is not your own? I have done so on vacation trips and it is an eye-opener. I am not a small person so I know that I am easily visible. I am not quiet “ever” so I know that folks hear me speak to them. I sing with gusto in the services so I am not a “Silent Sam” standing like a fence post at the end of a row of seats. But, with all of that said, I have had people say “Excuse me” as they stepped over me to speak to someone seated on my row and never even offer to shake my hand. A church that I visited in a recent trip had ushers that never made eye contact with me and simply handed me a bulletin like an automated paper dispenser. Sadly, I came and went for a church service in that city and no one spoke to me with a greeting. The best I got all morning was an “Excuse me” as I was passed by.
If that is the way that folks seeking a church home are treated across the country when they visit, no wonder church attendance is down. If I were not a solid Christian and a pastor of what I perceive to be a friendly bunch of folks, I would be reluctant to go back if that had been my experience. We are to be an outpost of the Kingdom and ambassadors of the King! Someone ought to remind us…..! Oh wait…..I just did! Remember, every person is a greeter and every person in a church needs to be greeted. So, this Sunday, make that your mission…….
Have you ever been to a church where you didn’t feel welcome? You went in and looked around the foyer area and no one greets you. You proceed through the doors into the sanctuary and find yourself a seat in the back row and begin to prepare yourself for the worship time. People come filing in and many are talking with one another, because it seems they all know each other, but still, no one offers a hand to be shaken or says hello. As you look around, you even notice some making eye contact with you and when they notice you seeing them, they turn away quickly or pretend they are looking beyond you at something else. The service goes by and when it is done, you linger around for a while in the foyer area again, reading some of the bulletin boards to see what things the church is involved with and still no one says, “Boo”, to you. Finally you leave, feeling a bit slighted, and tell yourself you will never visit this church again. (Copied).