I have been working on our churches website lately and doing a lot of changes. We are in the middle of welcoming our new pastor and there are changes on the horizon. Changes are a good thing though and I look forward to seeing what changes there are and where God is leading our church to. But! I know, there is always a but. But, the other day at church I got thinking about our order or service and how some of our lay leaders or those making announcements welcome first time visitors.
Our church is a very huggy squeezey kind of church. I love the people there. Even though there are times when I will venture out and go to another service because they are doing something special or I have a need for contemporary music. I have long ago come to the conclusion that our church is meant to be more of a traditional style of service and that is OK. But back to my thinking about the way we greet newcomers.
One of our guys was doing the announcements and there were some newbies that walked through the door. They were new to the area and was checking out churches in the area. Now when I check out a new church, I don’t want a lot of fanfare. I want to sit in the back and listen to the sermon and see what the church is like on a normal Sunday. But that moment comes at some churches when the guy up front will ask if there are any first time visitors. I dread that moment and when I know a church does that, I make sure to stay clear. I don’t like being called out when I go to a new church or having to hold my hand up and everyone focuses on me. It reminds me of the times I had to start a new school and the teacher would have me stand in front of the class and introduce me to everyone. Then they would assign someone who didn’t want to be your friend for the day.
The other week when this happened at church, I wanted to tell the poor family to lay low. Don’t raise your hand and move quietly. I could tell the people just wanted to be there. Their legs started to fidget and a couple of the kids was whispering about how they didn’t want to stand and introduce themselves. I think this time of welcoming and showering people with an over abundance of love and affection all within a couple minutes is old church. I think all the churches I have gone to are like this. And I have to admit that the friendliness of everyone is what drew me to St. George Community Church. That first Sunday I didn’t like when I had to stand up like I was in class. My girls and I had a talk on the way about if they do this, who will stand up. I got the loosing straw.
Now the part that I do like is that they have a meet and greet time. I think this is a good thing because it gives you a chance to welcome newcomers and say hi to those around you. Everyone is standing up at the same time, shaking hands and being friendly. It isn’t just one person or a family standing there with 120 sets of eyes watching your every move.
I went searching the ever reliable internet on what keeps them away from church. I know everything we find there has to be right, right? Well, I started a search on why people stay away from church or why they have a fear of going to church. And these are some of the things I found and I have to say that we are guilty of some of these things. Egads, does that mean I need to change my way of greeting others at church? Hmmm…
The one that stood out the most was addresses. And this keeps me from going to new churches too. They hand you a packet and you fill out your name, address, phone number and whatever else that is asked for shy of signing your life away. So they fill out this nifty little card that gives information to the pastor and church leaders so they can call on the person later. Not that filling out a form is bad, because I have no issue with that. But what follows is kind of a pain. You have the bombardment of people asking where you are from, do you live in the area, are you a visitor and so on. I know I’m guilty of this myself. I think once the form is filled in it is nice to just introduce yourself during meet and greet and tell them you are happy to see them. No long stories or life time history is needed at that point. If they wanted 20 questions, they would go on a game show for that. Once that card is in the offering plate, then the pastor will call or visit, which I like. It’s much less intimidating to visit with one or two then 120.
This is one of my things I’m guilty on. When a newcomer finally makes it past everyone at church and given their life story, they have to find a place to sit. My eyes are darting back and forth and I know the only pew that would hold them all is the one I sit in each and every Sunday. Telepathically I’m sending a message to these newcomers that they are sitting in my seat and they need to move, lol. Now of course I would never voice this out loud, but it is bothering me to no end. So after church I huff and puff for a few and then calm down and realize I don’t own the pew and they needed to sit somewhere, lol. I’m pretty sure they were wondering where they would sit and didn’t realize that there is a magic sign on that one. When I go to other churches, I know I always hope I didn’t ruin someone’s plan to sit in their favorite place that was made for them. I wonder if their hearts jump out of their chest as the strangers enter the row and plop themselves down. Egads, that gives me a headache just thinking on that, lol.
I did venture out and onto the internet to check out why people don’t go and here are some reasons I found. When I ask some people why they don’t go to church I found it interesting that many times it is because of a bad experience that kept them away. And some may be like me where they wouldn’t go to church unless they knew they wouldn’t be singled out. Some of their reasons were that they didn’t have anything nice to wear and people would make fun of them. Or they would think that the church only wanted their money and was going to suck them dry. This is one that I hear all the time and that is that they aren’t good enough to go to church. Shoot not one of us is good enough and all are sinners, but that is a whole other topic. When I heard some of these reasons I made me think about the kind of message we are sending out to people outside of the church. I have to say that I was pretty happy that some even told me they hate having to stand up and introduce themselves. I felt like I wasn’t alone.
In closing, I guess I have to admit that I have a few church issues. I like my pew and I don’t like to stand up and be called on. But I do love the people. You won’t find a more loving and kind group of people then you have at St. George Community Church. I’m looking forward to see what is going to happen even though I am a creature of habit as some may know. I will close this topic before I go on and ramble more about other stuff. 🙂 Even though, Now I’m thinking I need a video to tell people that it is safe to go to church and they don’t have to stand up and introduce themselves if they don’t want too. And if they feel pressured I will hide them under the safety of my pew. 🙂