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.