Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Get It Right The First Time?

Now, that's a novel idea.

Sometimes what people want more than anything is just to feel like somebody else cares.

While organized denominations (Presbyterian, Methodist, Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, and others) are complex, multi-tiered organizations that function much like any large business, sometimes the rank and file - those of us who sit in the pew on Sunday mornings - are left wondering if too much of the "business" has seeped into the church.

How's your church? Are folks charged up when they get together? Are members enthused when greeting new folks at the door? Do you sense from others or have you experienced yourself any compelling desire to want to invite people to your church?

Or, is it otherwise?

And we all know what "otherwise" feels like - chilly, distant, sluggish - the complete antithesis of what a group of believers united by the cross of Christ should be expressing.

Not a few studies (and a lot of common sense) have shown that positive first impressions are lasting impressions. Nowhere is this probably truer than for the individual attending a church for the first time. The warm handshake, the genuine smile, the attempt (no matter how clumsy it might feel) at conversation - each goes a long way to breaking down barriers and giving people a reason to come back.

And that return trip might just be the start of a relationship with Jesus that otherwise would never have happened in that person's life.

Think about it. What is it about meeting people for the first time you find awkward? What do you wish others would do when you visit them on their turf for the first time? Is it something you can do when others visit your church?

Is it possible to get it right the first time?


Anonymous said...

I've visited churches where I consciously watch how and if I'll be greeted. I'm kind of one of those "in-between" people. I don't want to be ingored, but I really can't stand the "shake the hand of your neighbor", as that seems too forced. As an aside... another pet peeve....I also don't like it during cold and flu season, where the hand I just shook was hacked on by it's owner moments before.

Anonymous said...

I agree - I am not big on hugging, standing up to be "recognized" etc. But, a nice smile and a warm "Good Morning" would be a good thing - I have been to too many churches where I have been ignored - so I don't return and I get a bad feeling for all Lutheran churches.

Dave said...

As a kid, growing up in my church, visitors were given a red ribbon to pin on their lapel. Our Minister also asked you to "stand if you are a visitor". How's that for a target??? Of course, our church also provided a book once a year to see how much each individual donated! How's that for a guilt trip? You'd always look to see how much your friend's parents gave. No wonder we have so much baggage!!

Jobacher said...

Ironic, or...
At our last Elder meeting we discussed making visitors and new members feeling welcome. We have greeters at the entry, we do the greet your neighbor in the pew thing each service. However it seems we lose track of new members and they seem to fade away. On eof the Elders when he came as a new member noted that we were not very inviting for him as a single guy. Kind of ignored. We figured that we need to make available even more fellowship opportunities for not only new members but those existing ones as well, beyond just the regular bible study groups. We have our first pheasant hunting outing scheduled. We will see how it goes. Looking forward to more o this site in upcoming months. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hunting? That sounds awesome - can you share a little of how this welcomes people? I think it is an "out of the box" idea that more pastors and churches need to look at.

God bless your hunt

Jared said...

I am really touchy about this. Notice how fast we are to put someone in a Social and Economic category? We want to know where they live,work,spouse,kids,religous background,family, and what they did for a living, whoa. I have met guys that can't remember my name, but they sure remember my "status". Interrogation is a huge turn off especially with younger people, because we are often under the stresses of life struggling to find our way. So please lay off the Interrogation and remember God has no such "catagories" we use here on earth. He loves us all equally.