READY FOR COMPANY?
Growing up as a child, and even more so now as an adult, I’ve come to appreciate the importance of preparing your home for guests. Whenever we’re expecting company, there’s a list of tasks to be completed before they arrive, and there’s a standard of behavior to demonstrate while they’re with our family. And for good reason! Our preparation for and our treatment of our guests shows them that they’re welcome in our home and that they’re valuable to us. Our actions say, “We’re glad you’re here.”
As a church family, we’ll have the same opportunity this Sunday. We’ll have numerous guests join us for Easter — many for the very first time — and how we prepare for their arrival and treat them will convey whether we’re glad they’re here and whether we want them to return. With this in mind, I want to offer a few friendly reminders of some simple yet meaningful ways we can make the most of this opportunity to spend time with new folks.
For starters, leave your house a little earlier than usual. No, it’s not so you can get a better parking space (I’d actually suggest you park a little farther away than usual, if you can, and leave the closer spots for guests). The reason is that guests are often the first to arrive for worship or Bible study, and we want to have our members already here and ready to welcome them as they arrive. For those who attend the late worship service, this also means making sure you get out of your Bible study class in plenty of time to meet a few new folks in the Sanctuary before the service begins.
When you arrive for worship, be on the lookout for new faces and be sure to welcome them, especially if they’re seated where you normally prefer to sit. To my knowledge, we’ve never adopted assigned seating in the sanctuary, and I wish this could go without saying, but I’ve heard from too many guests and new members who were asked to move because they’d unknowingly taken someone’s reserved spot. It saddens me to think of all the folks I haven’t met because they gave up their seat and never came back.
If you’re not in the habit of greeting guests, here are a few things you can say. “Good morning! I’m (insert your name). I don’t believe I’ve met you before.” Hopefully, they’ll share their name. “(Insert their name), it’s nice to meet you. How long have you been a part of First Baptist Church?” You may find out that they’re a long-time member or a first-time guest. In either case, “I’m glad you’re here.” (Or “Thank you for being here.”) If you happen to meet someone sitting alone, in addition to greeting them, you may even consider asking them to sit with you or asking permission to sit with them.
If you meet a guest, try to introduce them to some other members before or after the service. The more people they meet, the more likely guests are to return. If you’re in the early worship service, please offer to help them find a Bible study class (or escort them to one of our greeters). We have a list of class options at the front desk. Regardless of which service you’re in, you can also offer them your e-mail address in case they have any questions.
In so many ways — large and small — we can impact people’s lives and model the love and acceptance we’ve found in Jesus. As we do so, we show them what it means to be a church family that lives as the body of Christ.