Do you remember when you were the new kid in class?
When I was five I went to kindergarten in Louisiana. It was a neat school where each kid had his own stick horse hanging on the wall with his name above it. On the first day of school when it was time for recess, we all ran to “saddle up” our horses. It was then I discovered I didn’t know what my name looked like, as all of the other kids apparently did. I was forced to wait until all the other horses had been claimed, and only then could I figure out which was mine, since it was the only one left. Probably no one else noticed, but as a five-year-old, I was traumatized.
A year later I had to start 1st grade a few days late because of having my tonsils removed. On my first day I got to class before the teacher did and attempted to sit at an empty desk. I quickly learned that the one I had chosen belonged to someone else. After trying two more seats and being evicted from each, I just cowered beside the wall and waited, embarrassed, until the teacher arrived and rescued me.
Just as I felt overwhelmed and out of place on those first days of school, our guests at Northside often feel bewildered as they make their way through a sea of strangers and navigate a building they’re not familiar with. I often see guests looking dazed as they have no idea where to go for Bible class or as they struggle to find an empty pew in our crowded auditorium.
And after they find a place to sit, guests may often be confused by some of the things we do as we worship. When someone finishes leading one part of worship, they may not know what’s coming next as he sits down and another man “pops” up. They might wonder where the piano is and have a hard time singing a cappella. As we’re not passing collection plates, guests may not know where to put their offering.
Most church members, when surveyed, report that their church is friendly. But guests who are surveyed often don’t agree. In reality, at most churches you can find members being friendly with each other, but guests are often ignored.
Let’s work hard to help our guests feel welcome. If you see someone you don’t know, introduce yourself. You’ll either help a guest feel at home or you’ll meet a member you need to get to know. And if a guest needs help finding his way around the building, please offer to help.
Men, when you lead worship please keep our guests in mind and help them understand what you’re doing and why.
One great way to welcome our guests is to invite them to stay for Guest Lunch. (Please read the Ministry Minute for more about this.)
Being the “new kid” can be scary. Please help make sure our guests leave Northside feeling glad they came. It’s more likely they’ll come back if you do.