Occasionally, the “natives” among us – those who have been around for as long as anyone can remember, need to be reminded what it feels like to be a “pilgrim” – a visitor on any given Sunday morning. What does it feel like to get up and go to a church where you’ve never been before? I suspect we natives underestimate the courage it takes to walk into a strange place with people who know each other, know what’s going on and know the lay of the land. I also suspect that seeking to understand the perspective of a Sunday morning pilgrim can bring big dividends to our church – natives and pilgrims alike!
Here are some tips from a fellow, long-term native in the hopes that pilgrims will find at Central Christian Church their own Plymouth Rock!
–Smile and greet everyone. Say, “Hi, I’m _______.” If you happen to greet a visitor – especially a first time worship visitor – you’ve hit the jackpot.
–Be helpful. When you meet a first time visitor, see if they have any questions. If they have children, they may wonder where our Sunday School classrooms or nursery are located. If they are alone, perhaps you might invite them to sit with you or your family.
–Do a “hand off.” If you are busy on Sunday mornings, as many of our volunteers are, be sure to hand them off to someone else before going about your business. Introduce them to someone with whom they may have something in common. In other words, don’t leave anyone alone and unsure what to do next.
–Bring all pilgrims to me! As long as worship isn’t in progress, or just about to begin, I would love to meet anyone who is visiting with us. Please feel free to interrupt me or “cut” in line after worship. Helping visitors to feel welcome and wanted is one of our top priorities every Sunday!
–After worship, seek out folks you don’t already know. Sometimes you will meet other members you haven’t had a chance to meet. More often than not, you’ll be the friendly face greeting people who may be visiting the church for the first time. Once again, before disengaging, be sure to introduce them to someone else or invite them to join you in the fellowship hall for refreshments.
–Our fellowship time is a great opportunity to make visitors feel at home. If you are a “native,” then that automatically makes you a “host.” If we all begin thinking like hosts, we can be certain anyone visiting our church will be made to feel very welcome!
Research has shown that the summer months are when pilgrims are most likely to be out searching for a church home. So keep an eye out and remember… you are a representative of Jesus and His Church not only on Sundays, but every day of the week.