If you are looking for a church:
Visitors are a blessing for every congregation. Most local visitors are looking for the missing relationship in their lives and a family of Christians can answer their need. How can a congregation begin to make a connection with visitors? Sit where visitors sit (Ez. 3:15) and hear the terminology used. Are they unintentionally isolated because of phrases such as “gospel meeting”? This may mean nothing to a non-Christian. Other examples may be communion, Lord’s Supper, denomination, going forward, heresy, deacon, elder, or even gospel.
Now consider thinking about seeing things through the eyes of a first-time visitor. Impressions are very important! What impression do we make?
Becoming a “welcoming” church only happens when every member is involved in making a strong favorable impression. (Mt. 5:16)
Every congregation has “chemistry,” it can be good, bad, or indifferent. A sense of “strong chemistry” can encourage a visitor to make a return visit or seek help for the void in their life elsewhere. What does a strong positive chemistry look like?
If, before and after services, people are engaged in conversation, smiles, hugs and laughter fills the air, strong positive chemistry is present. If it looks like a fire drill when amen is said, chemistry is absent.
“Fellowship — we are fellows in the ship, traveling together,” (Charles Orr) enduring the same problems. You can see the absence of a positive chemistry when people are alone in a crowd, sitting in the pews with people known only by their name. Chemistry is missing when a person won’t reach out to others. People seek to make a connection; if they cannot find it here, they will look elsewhere. Then they will fail to benefit from the powerful network of fellow believers who can support, encourage, and strengthen them. Make yourself available to people so they can get to know you and care for you. A key ingredient is the manner in which we reach out and allow ourselves to knit to one another.
Secrets kill positive chemistry in marriage and fellowship.
The attitude of the shepherds, spirit of the sermons, and a solid connection with the flock sets the tone, temperature, and chemistry of the congregation. This is demonstrated by the attitudes, examples, and the way leadership deals with people. Leaders can be warm and helpful or distant and rude; each affects the chemistry of the group.
Although appearances of the facilities can affect the first impression a visitor may have, chemistry is more important. How one is treated makes more of an impression than church activities, ornately decorated lobbies, or flamboyant speakers. Without the showing of genuine concern people will not stay.
Once inside, warmly welcomed and seated, the next step is to provide an easy-to-follow pattern of worship that will enhance the experience of a first-time visitor. Using the PowerPoint screen as a guide through the worship hour activities will make a visitor more comfortable and receptive to the gospel. When presented in a clear concise manner the power of the gospel will be on full display. If the sermon is confusing or not edifying some may miss the learning opportunity and not return.
What can YOU do to make your group a “Welcoming Congregation”?
It was a sunny morning when James stepped outside to get his morning paper. Only a moment later James returned with a disgusted look on his face. No paper! James said, “I’m gonna have to get me a new paper boy. He’s just not faithful.” The problem was that James’ paperboy would deliver about one out of every three days.
Fred was in a hurry to get to work, but it happened again. His car wouldn’t start. He had hoped this used second vehicle would be just what he needed, but about one out of every three turns of the ignition, the car wouldn’t start. Fred told his wife, “I’m gonna have to trade that car in. I just need one that’s more faithful.”
Are James and Fred right to call the paperboy and the car unfaithful? Would you be pleased with a paperboy who delivered one day out of three? Would you be pleased with a car that only started two out of three times? Certainly not.
The apostle Paul was chosen by God to carry the gospel because God counted him faithful. “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry” (1 Tim. 1:12). Paul was trustworthy. God could count on him when He needed him. Paul would never fail in his duty to God.
What about me and my attendance to the assemblies of God’s people? My brethren are counting on me to be there. I need to consider the impact of my absence upon them. My presence helps to stir up my brothers and sisters to love and good works. Furthermore, I am drawing near to God and holding fast to my faith (Heb. 10:23-25). Am I faithful if I hit one out of every three services? Am I faithful if I hit two out of three? Does God consider me reliable and trustworthy? Is He pleased with such performance?
It’s something to think about, isn’t it? If I wouldn’t call the paperboy faithful and the used car faithful, then why do I consider myself faithful in my service to God if my performance is no better? All of us need to realize our obligations to God and to our brethren regarding our attendance. We grow weaker through our absence.
Someone once compared this to an automobile: “Brethren are often like cars. They ‘sputter’ before they ‘miss’ and they ‘miss’ before they ‘quit.’”
According to a humorous television commercial, one of the first signs of termite infection in your home is that “everything looks perfectly normal.” It is their way of convincing us that a lot of damage can be done before you even notice it. The ad might serve to remind us of problems that can occur in our spiritual house if we do not take protective measures. The very foundation can be destroyed while everything on the outside seems to be normal by the standards of our day. When our lives are comfortably blended into the society we live in, when there is nothing unusual about our moral or religious principles, when our priorities are the same as the great majority of our neighbors, then things are dangerously “normal.”
The problem is that “normal” is a term that is determined by man’s standards, and though measuring up to it may provide a degree of comfort here, it falls far short when it comes to laying up treasures in heaven.
Paul warned the Corinthians of some who “measuring themselves by themselves and comparing themselves with themselves, are without understanding” (II Cor. 10:12). God’s yardstick matters, not that of the “mainstream of society.” God has always required His people to be separate (Isa. 52:11; II Cor. 6:17-7:1) not physically withdrawn, but distinct in conversation and conduct, not fashioned according to the world (Rom. 12:1, 2).
It is a sobering Biblical truth that few will be saved; the majority will enter the broad way that leads to destruction (Matt. 7:13, 14). It is strange, then, that we should be satisfied with attaining a status accepted by society. What value is it, if we lose our souls?
Friend, if your life seems “normal” enough by man’s standards it may be that your spiritual house is caving in. It will not be shored up by man’s money or man’s tools, but by the Word that framed the worlds (Heb. 11:3). The answer is some honest, objective study of it, for it is the standard which will judge us (John 12:48).