Hello, I Am A Visitor to Your Congregation

March 18, 2012

Do you remember that awkward moment when the school principle interrupted class to introduce a new kid? “Good morning, everybody. I want you to meet a new student in your class. She’s from Cleveland. Everyone say hello to Candace…” Candace’s new classmates look – and act like – the Crips and Bloods of Los Angeles gang fame.

You can be sure that Candace is eating by herself at lunch today. Candace will sit by herself in the library, walk by herself down the corridor, enter the wrong room because no one cared enough to tell her where Mrs. Wormwood’s class actually met. It will take a youngster of great courage to break the tenth-grade protocol and actually befriend poor little Candace.

Please tell me the plight of the visitor to church will go better than a junior high school, only degrees less hostile than a Middle eastern war zone!

* A visitor to church should be greeted by several members, but not made to stand before the whole congregation and be humiliated.

* A visitor should have someone direct his/her children to Bible class, not wander the halls without so much as a GPS device.

* A visitor should be allowed to sit anywhere in the auditorium he wishes, even if it’s my pew he has unintentionally chosen.

* A visitor should be welcomed generically from the pulpit (“Visitors, you are our honored guests”), and personally by more than just the preacher.

* A visitor should be invited back; he should never have to stand near his pew in isolation while we eagerly converse with our special friends (you know, the ones we eagerly converse with every week).

* A visitor might even be invited to a special event held by the church in the near future, or be invited to join a family or families to eat lunch.

A visitor to church might appreciate a warm friendly visit to his home in the next week or two, or at least a card saying how delighted we were to have them come our way.

Remember, you are the insider. You are the one who already has friends in church. So draw him in.

“And when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me …” (Galatians 2:9).

-Stan Mitchell

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