I moved several times as a boy and it wasn’t much fun.
Each time I had to overcome old fears, break down unseen barriers and make new friends. I never liked that feeling of being an outsider. I haven’t forgotten how it felt to my tender young soul.
But it taught me some valuable lessons in helping to connect with guests at church.
Visiting a church can be awkward for a first-time guest. They don’t know the people, the customs or the expectations. They can feel nervous, intimidated or ignored. They might not even yet know the message of the Gospel.
Here are some tips to help church members purposely connect with guests that can make a real and lasting difference:
1. Talk to people you don’t know.
Church member, this is the simplest thing that you can do for guests. If you don’t know someone, say hello. Tell them you are glad to see them. I ask almost every Sunday, “Have I met you before?” If I have met them before, I apologize for forgetting and work to get to know them better.
In connecting with guests, just speak to them. Look them in the eye and say a simple greeting. Welcome them. Care about them. A surprising number of church members never do this.
2. Be friendly to people who aren’t yet your friends.
Every church in America thinks they are friendly because they are friendly to their friends. But being friendly to your friends does not make your church friendly to guests.
I love that our members have church friends with whom they can talk and laugh and visit. But I want them to choose to meet some new people. One of my dearest college friends was the very last guy I met of all the guys on my dorm hall.
Make some new friends at church this week. Maybe they will become lifelong friends. But even if not, you will help a new person connect with your church.
3. Learn their names.
Introductions usually involve us telling each other our names. But if we aren’t careful, we quickly forget. It isn’t that we aren’t good with names but that we didn’t really pay careful attention when they told us their name to begin with.
Our small groups have come up with a simple solution for this. We are starting to wear name tags. You can’t easily ask the name of a couple in your small group who have been coming for months. It is embarrassing that you forgot. But name tags help us remember. And they are especially helpful for connecting with guests.
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Source: Baptist Press