If your church's Friendly Factor were rated on a scale of 1-10, what do you think you would score? For many of us, we might put ourselves squarely in the middle, but in this case, average just doesn't meet the standard of Hebrews 13:1. Time and time again, the Bible calls God's people to offer hospitality.
Welcoming visitors is essential. A visitor's eternity may be at stake.
When a visitor enters our church, we may have no idea what has brought them. Some come because they have experienced a tragedy. Others are expecting a miracle. Some have begrudgingly accepted an invitation. In each case, their visit to our church might be their first or last chance to hear about the hope of Christ.
We can't let that opportunity pass just because we are shy around new people or busy fulfilling our own responsibilities. Consider what Steve Trader, a licensed professional counselor with Pathways Professional Counseling, says:
"There is no question that many churches need to make a concerted effort to be more friendly to visitors. When I went off to college I learned this first hand. I had been so used to my home church but being in a new setting was a challenge. After visiting several churches I finally settled on the one that really acted like it mattered to them that I came. They were by far the most friendly."
Trader says that a pastor often sets the tone for the congregation. A welcoming pastor will inspire others to be welcoming as well. Trader says it this way:
"So often, the local congregation takes on the personality of the pastor. I have seen this to be true time and again. If the pastor has been at the church for a sufficient period of time and is warm and friendly the congregation begins to catch on."
Perhaps one of the most important things long-time church members can do is put themselves in the shoes of a first-time visitor, Trader says.
"To me, it is so important to put yourself in the place of the visitor. When people smile at you and offer a kind word it makes a huge, huge impact."
This year, make a commitment to welcome visitors to your church. A smile and a greeting may be the open door that a not-yet believer needs to accept Christ. Feeling bold? Try some of these tips:
Click here to read more advice and tips about improving the Friendly Factor at your church. Then smile and wave, church people. Smile and wave!
I am a regular contributor to The Alabama Baptist newspaper, and I also write and edit for several religious, business and educational outlets through my business, McWhorter Media and Marketing.
One of the greatest privileges of being a writer is the opportunity to share the stories of others with a larger audience. I love to do that!
Sharing my own stories is much more challenging, though no less important to making sense of the challenges of Faith and Family in everyday life.
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