Saturday, May 23, 2009

On Welcoming Visitors

Stumble Upon Toolbar

I recently ran across a site written by an Anchorage man who had purposed to visit every church in his town and chronicle his findings in a weekly column in the Anchorage Daily News.

Here is what he says about his experiment:

As a student of religion, I've seen how various factors in a church visit affect spiritual growth and religious attitudes as one searches for a church home. I visit churches to observe, firsthand, how they present themselves to visitors. My visits, with a few exceptions, focus on Christian churches. This blog contains accounts of those visits, and related posts. I look for the following in my visits:

• Friendliness and warmth
• Genuine welcome, true Christian hospitality
• Effective, well-delivered bible-based main teaching
• Music deepening the worship, not just entertainment

I found his observations fascinating. In some cases, he was greeted warmly, but in others completely ignored. He wrote about having to walk around impenetrable groups of members clustered together chatting just to get to his seat.

One church even had the word "friendly" in its name, but he found that it just wasn't.

I think the observation he makes here is downright shameful!

What, Invite Visitors to Lunch?
During this past year, I've only been invited to a church meal once or twice. I fear that many times visitors to our churches could use a meal, but are routinely ignored or not included. It's not my case to be needing a meal, but several times, when departing, I waded through a church crowd chowing down, or preparing to do so, without a single member noticing or asking me to join them.

I also found it very interesting that many times, the church members defended themselves in the comments section instead of realizing their error and committing to being more welcoming.

I always try to introduce myself to visitors and invite them to the weekly Bible study we have in our home. This blog has made me even more aware to seek out those people to invite them to lunch and make sure they feel welcome.

I don't want a visitor to say these things after attending a worship service where I was present:

No one greeted me or acknowledged my presence.

Leaving the church and going to my car, I left alone and unnoticed.

Make sure to read his archives to see what he says about specific visits.


Harmony said...

Very, very fascinating. I would hope he would have a favorable impression of our congregation.

Brenda said...

Husband and I grew up at our church but visited around for about 2 years, It gives you a totally new perspective to do so!

Traci Best said...

For a time, before our kids came, I used to work in the outreach ministry at our church. This subject is so frustrating to me because I always felt if we are 'outgoing' and seek out first time visitors...then we are labeled as fringe freaks who go way beyond and scare people away from coming back. LOL. Is there a happy medium? Lots of people I know would be GLAD to slip in and out the first time they vist, unnoticed!

Smockity Frocks said...

Traci, It has never occured to me that anyone would want to be unnoticed while visiting a church.

Being the "new folks" in town again has reminded me, though, how much I appreciate people speaking to us, showing us where the Bible classes are, inviting us to lunch, etc.

I just assumed others would feel the same way.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin

Swidget 1.0 6

Web Statistics