No matter what your philosophy of Sundays in the life of your church looks like, it’s always biblical and beneficial to show love to people who are walking through the doors for the first or second time. In fact, it’s crucial. It’s very easy to come across as either in-genuine with an “in your face” approach, but it’s equally easy to seem uncaring by our silence.
As you help believers learn how to show love to new guests, here are some important principles to communicate…
You are the first loving touch every guest will meet, which sets the stage for people to be open to life change. People will be more or less receptive to the teaching depending on how they were made to feel on the way in.
Most guests will decide in the first few minutes if they will return, even before the music starts. It’s easy to walk into church if you’re there every week, but do you remember what it was like walking in for the first time, when you didn’t think you’d know anyone and wondered if anyone would want to know you?
Your biggest goals are to 1.) eliminate awkwardness and 2.) encourage people. We worship together in a movie theater, so we have the advantage of knowing that people already know what it’s like to walk into a theater, but they’re still asking themselves questions like am I following their rules? am I dressed appropriately? will I be able to find the bathroom without asking?
You are a tour guide who takes people to their destination, not a travel agent who sends them there. Walking parents and kids all the way to the next volunteer in the kids’ worship room is far better than pointing a finger and saying, “it’s down there on the right.” Walk with people, and ask them questions on the way. Be genuinely interested in their lives.
You can have a ministry of encouragement and even offer to have a brief prayer with people. Obviously, some first time guests may not be comfortable with such forwardness, but sometimes it may be highly appropriate to pray with guests before they enter the auditorium, especially if you’ve sensed a spiritual need in them. Keep it brief and don’t make things awkward, but communicate that you care.
Everybody ought to receive a smile, a word of welcome, a loving touch (such as a handshake), and a bulletin on their way in. A smile disarms people and boosts their confidence. A word of welcome is common courtesy. A loving touch, such as a handshake or a brief hug might be the only loving touch that guest receives this week. And a bulletin, at least in our case, is like a map for what’s going on and allows the guest to respond to the message and request more information.
Last Sunday, my wife noticed a new kid in kids’ worship. Two other boys belonging to one of our core families walked up to him and asked him if he liked video games. Upon hearing his enthusiastic “yes” they replied, “Good, you can be in our group then.” The kid belonged already, evidenced by his smile.
God showed His love for people by sending His Son to die for our sins. Are we willing to love people enough to intentionally show it with our actions? And by the way, if you’re a believer, you’re a greeter at your church whether you’re signed up or not.
Photo credit: Faustus909.