Becoming A Welcoming Church - Part 4
"The vast majority of [church] guests feel like they are intruding on a party to which they were not invited."
So says Dr. Thom Rainer in his book, Becoming A Welcoming Church, (p. 24), describing the mind-set of most church visitors. He makes a great point that while we are enjoying the fellowship of our fellow church members, the visitor may not know a single person! He may have learned about the church via its website or simply driven by the edifice and decided to visit. And even if he does know a few members he may not be able to find them unless prior arrangements have been made.
One of my golf acquaintances visited last Sunday. He came alone. I was so pleased to see one of our elders take him under his wing. They had known each other for a long time but neither knew they would see each other Sunday morning. They connected in the lobby, came into the auditorium together, sat together, and left together. Afterward he texted me to say how much he enjoyed his visit and although he is pretty "embedded" at his own church he will visit again. He then signed his name and described himself as a "grasshopper," thus letting me know he had listened to the sermon!
I hope that coming to church is a joyful, fun experience each Sunday. Indeed I would be delighted for it to be described as a "holy party!" But we must always be attentive to the stranger in our midst. He or she is not intruding; rather they are our honored guests.