Becoming A Welcoming Church - Part 2
We are now approximately 10 weeks away from moving to our permanent location. While we won't have a sanctuary or youth center (yet) we will have a welcoming spirit! I met a first-time visitor Sunday who told me, after the service, that we "knocked it out of the park" in terms of welcoming her. Let's keep it up!
Dr. Thom Rainer (Becoming a Welcoming Church, p. 6-7) writes of a couple that had a far different experience in another church. Ryan and Bethany agreed to visit and "give it a try" with their two young daughters. So they did. Once. Not twice.
Interviewed later, in their own words, they said the church website was "terrible." It had not been updated to reflect the new time of the worship service. Consequently they arrived late. Church members had taken all the close parking spots. Supposedly there were guest parking spots but Ryan could not find them. At the front door two greeters spoke to them "for at least two seconds...then resumed their private conversation." When they went to the children's area to check in their two young daughters the area was dirty, security was weak, and the person who met them "complained that they were late." No wonder they never returned.
However, Dr. Rainer says the most surprising thing occurred when he surveyed many members of this same church: "When we interviewed members of this church, they consistently proclaimed a similar message: our church is very friendly!"
And herein is the problem in many churches. Church members perceive themselves as friendly – and they are – with each other. But they seldom put themselves in the shoes of a first-time visitor. The questions, the insecurities, even the fears that visitors have are often forgotten. A welcoming church anticipates these things, warmly assists newcomers, calms their fears, and authentically welcomes them into the church family.