Most of us (I can not vouch for all) take appropriate measures when we are about to welcome guests to our home for the first time. Generally, we make sure that the outside light is on, the dog is locked away and the underwear is off the bathroom floor.
We can also take some steps to welcome people for the first time into the meeting place of our church family. Here are a few that I think might be helpful to us at Southpoint.
1. Parking. Leave the best spots for guests. It sounds simple and isn’t a huge concern because we normally have lots of parking, but leaving spaces closer to the door might help make life a little easier for a guest.
2. Seating. There are often lots of seats up front, but it is a little awkward to sit at the front on your first visit.Â We allÂ know that it’s easier to check things out from a few rows back, so perhaps if Southpoint is already home, we can fill up the forward rows first.
3. Timing. We have a ‘soft start’ at Southpoint. This means that we value a little transition time between the rush to get to the worship gathering and the formal worship time (and I use ‘formal’ loosely). Grab a coffee. Say hi. Sit and pray. Take the kids to the bathroom. It’s nice to be able to ease into our time together.
But, our start is moving from soft to mushy! The problem is, first time guests often arrive early – after all, we start at 10. And then they have 20 awkward minutes to fill while we get things moving. If we come closer to ten, then we have an opportunity to ‘transition’ and we provide a few extra bodies so guests might blend in a little easier.
I’m not a big fan of seeker-sensitive strategies. But I do value taking appropriate measures to welcome guests into my home and into our Southpoint family gatherings.
I’m sure you can think of a few more ways to help make first time guests feel a little more at ease. Feel free to post them in a reply. For now, these are three simple things we can do to send the right message on our welcome mat. “Remember to welcome strangers, because some who have done this have welcomed angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13