My flight left at 630 am en route to Love Field in Dallas for a new pastor’s in Texas meeting. I arrived early and made my way through the terminal and out to the ground transportation. There to pick me up a wondeful man by the name of Walter Criss from Brookhaven Baptist in Dallas. We chatted as we waited for 3 other guys. He took us all the way to the front door. As we exited the van there were people at the door with smiles and greetings for us. We walked in the door and found others there to greet us.
I made my way through the registration process and received my name tag and welcome folder. I then spent the next hour being greeted by everyone who is a member of the group. I sat down at a table of those who are new in the Panhandle of Texas. I watched as the area reps worked the room without regard to whether or not we were in their area of Texas. I met reps from the nine areas, 8 of whom I may never meet again! The ministry personnel also were greetin each of us and asking where we live, serve, and expressed genuine interest in our “story”.
From this time I was impressed that if our churches, each Sunday, would welcome like this our churches would overflow before too long. Here are a few tips for us to consider.
1. In the parking lot. I am aware of one church that has volunteers who stand out by the road and smile and wave as folks drive by and/or drive into the lot. They serve to provide a positive presence as people even drive by! So often we in the churches feel good if we just shake hands if they make it into the worship service! What if we took it outside? Not the lobby. What if we took our greeting to the parking spaces and greeted people as they drove up and walk them to the door. Am I out of my mind? How many volunteers would it take? A better question would be does God’s love start at the door of the church or the door of the car? I would agree it starts before they arrive, but in this context should we not greet them as early as possible?
2. At the door. I am thankful to serve a church that has wonderful, caring people at the door! We have representatives at each of our doors and they are absolutely lovely people who are warm and inviting. We have some who will give assistance to those who need it getting up the walk. When do your people first feel welcomed in your place? How long are they on your campus before they are noticed?
3. Introductions. My wife’s father is well-known for two things: pigs and introductions. My kids laugh at how he begins each new conversation. He will ask “What’s your name?” and “Where are you from?” Every time. When people enter your facility, are they met with those who are interested in them or just moving them on to the next space? The generations we all are tring to reach desire a relationship. If we will engage in conversation and genuinely listen we are well on our way. As we do so, let us provide opportunities to help them be known by us and know about us.
4. Where’s the coffee? This younger generation, which I still hold I am a part of, loves coffee/cokes/water and more. Providing opportunities for moments of connnection over coffee or snacks in a central location allows for growth of friendships. During this time, key people engage in conversation. This is not a time to dump the church calendar to them. It is a time, however, to relate. Talk to them. Show genuine interest. Love.
God loved the world by coming to us and engaging us. Are we doing the same with those who pass by our churches?