When a visitor isn’t made to feel welcome at a church, the visitor’s assumption is often that the people are cliquish snobs.  Sometimes that may be true, but I’ve discovered that more often the real problem is FEAR – people are afraid to reach out to new people.  Here are some reasons I’ve heard that people don’t reach out.

“It’s not my job.” Some people feel it’s ONLY the job of the pastors (or greeters) to reach out.  If this is what you think, your understanding of the church is defective.  A church is not a business producing a product that people consume and then forget about when they leave (like a restaurant).  A church is an interconnected community (like a family).  The services don’t make the church; the connections do.  In that context, we all have a responsibility to love one another and reach out to and welcome others.

“I’m shy (or an introvert).”  These are not reasons.  They are excuses behind which you hide.  Proverbs 22.13 says excuse-making is a disguise for laziness.

The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside! I shall be killed in the streets!”

There’s no lion and you’re not going to be killed.  What horrible thing is going to happen if you say “Hello” to someone in a church foyer?

“I don’t know what to say.”   Here’s a crash course on what to say to someone you’ve never met.  You ready?
            I don’t believe we’ve met.  My name is _________.  What’s yours?
            Where are you from?
            How did you find our church?
            It was really nice to meet you.  I hope you enjoy your time with us!

What is so hard about that???
“I’m afraid I’ll say the wrong thing.” What devastatingly ‘wrong thing’ could you possibly say???  The most common answer to my question is: “What if they’ve been coming for a year, and I say ‘Are you new here?’”.

If you say “I don’t believe we’ve met” you avoid this difficulty (if “difficulty” is even the right word to use here).

But what if you do ask how long a new face has been coming, and they tell you they’ve been coming for a year?  What horrible thing has happened or is going to happen because of that little interaction?
The ‘horrible thing’ is that you feel stupid for thinking they were new when they weren’t.  Stop taking yourself so seriously!  You made a simple mistake and did no damage to anyone.  Smile (laugh?) and say, “Well, this is a sizable church and it’s easy to get lost in the crowd, but I’m glad to have met you today!”

If a visitor is put off by this, it’s the visitor who is the cliquish snob and you did us all a favor.

These aren’t lions.  You are trembling before kittens. 




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