Here is a great post from Randy Woodbury on his blog about what it was like to be a visitor to Sunday worship gatherings for the first time in his life. Many of us who serve as leaders or might be called to a new church family to pastor don’t get to experience this much. Some of us may have been part of a church family for a long time and never really thought about the visitor perspective much. May this post help us all to be more sensitive and more hospitable to first time guests in our Sunday worship gatherings. :-)
Thanks Randy for sharing…
Originally posted on Randy Woodbury:
For the duration of my life on this Earth thus far (37 years), I have been involved with only two churches. For the first 18 years of my existence, I was involved with the church of my parents in Waterloo, IA. The church where I was born, raised, put my faith in Christ’s loving sacrifice as payment for my sins, was baptized by immersion…and then I headed off to college. While in college, I joined a fellowship of believers in Ames, IA that had been part of my siblings’ lives, and enjoyed 19 years of ministry there, dedicated my life to Christ, found a wife, started a family, became a leader, saved a marriage and learned a thousand different things (likely a blog post for another time). However, in each church situation, I had never truly been a visitor – I had pre-existing relationships that drew me to those churches. Over the past 24 months as the Lord called me and my family to minister closer to our Ankeny community, we had a unique opportunity to visit six churches over a ten-week period as visitors for the first time. It was eye-opening, a little intimidating and completely enjoyable. Here are some of my observations as our family of five navigated this new adventure…some serious, others less so:
Never forget – I am a visitor…and I am clueless!
- Seriously, I am clueless. I may also be nervous, intimidated, scared, worried and anxious, so you cannot overtly treat me like I’m clueless. I may or may not ask for help. I may or may not notice the obvious. I may flee back to my car or to the bathroom at a moment’s notice. This, therefore, puts your church in kind of a bind.
- So here are a couple key rules of thumb to remember:
- Rule of thumb #1: Maps, signs, volunteers, more signs, name tags, more signs, handouts, pamphlets, billboards, posters and big, bright, flashing signs = VERY GOOD!
- Rule of thumb #2: Assuming I know where the kids go, where I’m supposed to go, where the bathrooms are, where the exits are, what goes on next in the service, where I’m supposed to go after the service, what I’m supposed to do during fellowship, how much the “free” donuts cost or assuming anything of a geographical, logistical or ceremonial nature = VERY BAD. Never assume I know anything. And I thank you in advance.
Have you seen the cross of Christ?