In light of the Easter holiday, most, if not all, of our churches will see many guests, those who don’t normally join us for our weekend worship services. Easter allows those of us who regularly participate in corporate worship to welcome them! It is a huge honor to stand collectively as the body of Christ with arms wide open to each and every person who walks through our doors, just like Jesus did on the cross for them.
Arguably every church would like to be known as friendly and welcoming to our guests and in the community. Sometimes however, the distance between that desire and the practical reality of it is unfortunately vast. But I don’t believe it’s because we don’t care – I honestly think we desire to be warm and inviting. I believe it legitimately comes down to the fact that most of us haven’t been practically trained how to GREET others. Leadership can exhort their people week after week, month after month to be friendly and engaging, but if we don’t purposefully train and equip them, ultimately we (ministry leaders) are responsible for our guests feeling less than embraced as they walk into our church building and services.
Here’s my full disclosure: I am an extremely outgoing extrovert. I have learned that I can not (and should not) expect everyone else to have my personality. Quite frankly, that’s ungodly and unproductive because God didn’t make us all like me. (Can I get an AMEN?!) Someone else’s engagement and interaction with others does not and will not look like just like mine – and that’s OK. But I believe I can still make the assumption that those who claim the name of Christ will in fact engage in some fashion, in their own way with those around them. (Read: introverts don’t get a blanket pass from people ministry just because it’s not the easiest for you. 🙂 )
Listen…you know whether you are totally comfortable starting a conversation from scratch with a group of perfect strangers or if you instead prefer to politely smile at someone who is sitting by him/herself, grab a friend, walk over, and kindly ask if you could sit with them. It simply boils down to having this Christ-like mindset: people matter. PEOPLE MATTER TO GOD. There’s hardly a clearer declaration from the cross of Christ, which we remember and celebrate this weekend. The issue isn’t your style, approach, or personality, it’s your willingness to put someone else’s care and comfort above your own. How can you and I show people that they matter this weekend?
I was thinking about this the other day as I was driving and I wanted to bring a simple, practical piece of training to the women in my Bible study. In my conversation with God, he gave me a simple acronym that I hope might prove helpful to you: GREET.
G – Go. We have to be willing to initiate. We have to be willing to put one foot in front of the other and GO to them. Be intentional. Don’t wait for our guests to approach us. Go to them first. Try to remember (some of us have to really try) what it’s like to walk into a brand-new-to-you church building for the first time. Remember the thoughts, the feelings, the angst, the unknown. It’ll help.
Gospel motivation: We initiate with others, because Jesus first initiated with us. Go.
R – Reach out. Put your hand out and shake theirs. It’s not hard. I promise. (It actually might be the easiest one of all of these–don’t waste it.)
Gospel motivation: Jesus reached out for us first when he willingly left his throne in heaven.
E – Engage with them. Ask what their name is. Ask if they’ve ever attended before. Ask what their kids’ names and ages are. Ask them how long they’ve lived in the area. For this one, you really need to know and understand your personality. For example, if you have a hard time with on-the-spot, get-to-know-you, surfacey conversations, then make sure you have a mental list of questions. Equip yourself. Be prepared. Remember: people matter and they matter enough to have a couple of engaging questions ready in your mind.
Gospel motivation: Jesus first engaged with us through his Holy Spirit. He is the initiator of all things faith.
E – Educate them. Listen to me: if they are new to your building and services, THEY KNOW NOTHING. They don’t know where the bathrooms are. They don’t know where the kids ministry is. They don’t know what doors to enter for the worship center. They don’t know if the coffee is free or not (this has actually been a question at my church). Educate them. Find out what they need and help them. Remove any possible obstacles to their experience being completely positive.
Gospel motivation: The Holy Spirit taught us the gospel while we were still his enemies, and we can teach others while they are our strangers.
T – Thank them. Conclude your conversation by thanking them for coming. Thanking them simply shows that we’re so glad they’re there. They could have chosen any place of worship in our area yet they chose ours. A simple, sincere thank you will speak volumes.
Gospel motivation: Jesus’ life, death, burial, and resurrection will be proclaimed. Their presence means that they will sit under the powerful hearing of God’s Word. By his grace, the Holy Spirit could open their heart, enlighten their eyes, and save their soul…and that should make us insanely grateful.
GREET. Go. Reach out. Engage. Educate. Thank. Let me let you off the hook: this conversation will only be a couple of minutes. Keep it simple, kind, intentional, and purposeful. I pray that this information serves you and your church body well.
Happy Easter! May you be so overwhelmed with Jesus’ goodness, joy, and life today!
He is risen. He is alive. He is ours. <3