I’ve been having God really work on my heart in the last few months over the church and things within the church that just don’t seem to make sense or do not seem to line up with His Word.
One of the issues I’ve been thinking about was stirred up yesterday at the church I attended. The pastor, in a pitch to get more money for renovations they wanted to do, spoke of making the lobby more welcoming to visitors along with the improvements to the church’s landscaping. How it made a difference “to them”, meaning the people who don’t attend the church.
And it made me consider my experience as a visitor at churches.
And it brought up a question.
Do we REALLY want to welcome visitors…or do we just want to make them come to us on our terms?
After that, the commitment to welcoming them is done?
They have to make the effort from that point on to be a part of the church?
It seems like churches care about visitors coming in until they pass the threshold of the church building…and then it’s all on them to get welcomed.
That’s the equivalent of a guy standing on Beale St. handing out flyers for some BBQ joint and inviting you to come in and try the new spicy BBQ.
That’s God’s best?
That’s showing God’s love?
Why do we make them fill out a visitor information card if we’re not going to contact them in any way? If we’re not going to reach out to them at all even if it’s just a follow up e-mail that says “thanks for checking us out?”
I know we live in society where people don’t like to be bothered and the church has had a tendency to come on very strong to people checking out their services. However, there’s ground between doing nothing and making new people stand up in the middle of service and introduce themselves.
It shouldn’t be difficult for someone who not a member of a church…or not even a Christian…to find out more about the church in a way that fits their life. Not everyone can attend four classes every alternate Tuesday night at the church starting at 5:30. If that’s the only way they can learn about the church, are you really welcoming them? Or are they already part of the number you’re going to tout during your year-end sermon of first time visitors and say how great the church was to reach all those people? (Which, by the way, you didn’t really reach them at all.)
I know a pastor can’t do it all in a church. But if the pastor has a mindset that it’s about the numbers, then the staff will see things that way as well.
If the pastor has a mindset that it’s the responsibility of the visitor to reach out and get involved rather than being TRULY invited to be a part of it, the staff will have the same arm’s length attitude toward people who come through the door. They’ll stand behind kiosks for people to sign up for membership class or the current hip term “growth track.”
Come to us. Come to us. Come to us.
And that just seems so counter to Christ.