The Adventure of Being a Church Guest

We’ve been looking for a church; a peculiar journey for a pastor of 42 years. It’s been an eye opening experience moving from pastor perspective to guest perspective. 
A friend, a heavily invested layman, told me recently after a similar search, “Churches are not friendly.” It seems odd.  We visited one church out of town with a great reputation. Worship was engaging. The message was biblical, on target, well presented.  But no one spoke to us. Well, one did.  A greeter at the door, with head down, mumbled a good morning. People were friendly to each other. Young families were busy taking children to the rest room, going where they knew to go. Meanwhile we searched for rest rooms for my elderly mother who was with us. When the service ended, someone immediately began picking up chairs and stacking them, basically blocking the aisle. Had I not gone to the Welcome Center, introduced myself and visited with a hospitable attendant, we would have left unimpressed and uninformed. Walking to the parking lot, I said to my wife, “If we decide to come here I will volunteer to teach a class on how to make people feel welcome.”  I inquired about small groups and Bible studies. Now, a few weeks before those activities begin, we received a helpful email detailing those opportunities. We were impressed.  
No one intended to be unfriendly. I’m sure of that. They were just busy, taking care of business – their own.  It was a rare opportunity for me to see the other side. We liked so many things about that church. It just didn’t feel good to be ignored.  We’re now more determined to do what we can to see that others are not ignored.

Author: Randy J. Gauger

Follower of Jesus Christ, Mary's husband for 55 years, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, preacher, ordained American Baptist Pastor retired, writer.

One thought on “The Adventure of Being a Church Guest”

  1. This is Jeanne Davis, I don't have any of the accounts listed so I will try commenting as “anonymous” and see if it goes through. Can so much relate to this post because for years we quickly found a ministry in each church, even with lots of moving because of military. But, several years ago when seeking a new church out of necessity, not due to a move, we experienced being the “outsider” and realized how caught up church folks can be in speaking to their friends and rushing to pick up their kids and just plain busyness. We even overheard, “they are sitting in OUR seats several times! Even if people were asked to “greet” we found they didn't share their name or ask you yours. It was HARD, very HARD. Ever since then I make it a point to find someone I do not know (and the past 3 weeks it has happened to be 1st timers and we've shared a bit of conversation and I look for them later too. I have learned not to say 'you must be new” since hearing “No, we've been members here for 20 years” is a bit awkward! However, “I should maybe know you, but I don't” works well. Good food for thought and ACTION here. Thanks!


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