Has this ever happened to you? A number of months ago Amy and I were out of town, so we decided to visit a different church on Sunday. After the service we stayed around for coffee and cake. While I would normally take the initiative to introduce myself to others, I decided to wait and see if anyone would engage us in conversation. Sadly, it never happened.
Granted, our experience may not be same as others who have visited. Maybe they were having an "off" day. Maybe the congregation normally engages visitors with zeal. Nevertheless, on the day we visited, we stood alone.
No church is perfect, and I am sure that even churches that are excellent at engaging visitors will miss the mark from time to time. The purpose of my post is not meant to focus on what churches get wrong; rather, I hope that by pointing out this deficiency, we will be encouraged to make appropriate changes.
In light of what I've said so far, I'd like for us to ponder an important question: Who should feel responsible for the visitor who stands alone? The answer is you. When someone chooses to visit your church, God has brought that person there for a purpose. It is not by chance that the person has visited. So, you should make every opportunity to engage the person.
If you are like me, I am sure that you desire for every visitor to feel welcomed. This may be their first exposure to the gospel and the Christian community. So, here are a few thoughts to keep in mind. First, engaging with visitors doesn't have to be complicated. A smile, a handshake, and a friendly "Hello" will speak volumes. Second, do not assume that someone else has already greeted the person. This is probably the biggest mistake we can make. We must recognize that the responsibility belongs to us and not to someone else.
Hopefully, the Lord will bring new people to your church this Sunday. And when He does, be ready and willing to engage them with the love of Christ.
(The cartoon shown above has been used by permission from Dave Walker at CartoonChurch.com. This CartoonChurch.com cartoon originally appeared in the Church Times and is taken from ‘My Pew: Things I have seen from it’, published by Canterbury Press.)