By Gary J. Sorrells
Today is Sunday. If you attended worship this morning, I bet you saw it. Although, it is so routine you may have missed it.
Churches have a strange way of dealing with guest—you are welcome—please fill out a card.
Wow, does that make me feel warm and fuzzily welcome!
It looks like members have a lot more fun as they huddle, laugh, give hugs, and backslaps. They act like friends.
When invited to a home as a guest, I cannot remember a time when the host greeted me with a card and sent me to the couch for the next hour while family members went about their business and overlooked me as if I were an uninterested picture crookedly hung on the wall.
I think about church language.
Do you ever notice how easy it is to use insider/outsider language? We quickly switch to it as we speak of members and guests.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our language quickly made everyone feel at home?
I would like to obliterate “guest and outsider speech,” from my vocabulary.
Sometime ago I came across a church that used a “friends” vocabulary.
The invitation was for immediate membership into the congregation. The assumption was it is easier to introduce friends to Jesus than convert visitors.
The church did not diminish Jesus’ calling. Rather they saw new friends in light of the love and forgiveness found through the cross.
When someone enters my congregation for the first time, I wish my dialogue sounded something like the following:
“Hello, my name is Gary. It is so good to see you this morning. Let’s sit together during worship. I want to introduce you to some of my other friends. My wife and I would love to take you to lunch when worship is over.”
Obviously, the point is not to be a sales person. The purpose is to project a genuine warmth and concern. The goal is to make a new friend. Friends seek out friends.
As an introvert, I am not good at what I just described. Through the years, I learned to compensate and act in ways that aren’t consistent with my natural wiring. Even then, my actions must be genuine. Fakes are easy to spot.
Here is my point. At our church assemblies the welcome guest routine is just that—it is routine. It keeps the visitor’s door spinning at warp speed.
What are your ideas to make sure friends are leaving the assembly with the idea they will return next time as insiders leaving their guest identity at the door?
Stay tuned. – Gary J. Sorrells – On Cross Church