Your smile and genuine welcome make a difference to people.
Kay and I have hosted hundreds of people in our home throughout our years at MeadowBrook. Many of them have been guests of The Brook, who are seeking a church. By far, the number one reason why many of them return for a second visit is your friendliness as a church.
Sure, the purpose for guests joining the MeadowBrook faith family is to be obedient to the Holy Spirit, who guides every part of the Body of Christ to join where he determines (1 Corinthians 12). Yes, many of them were drawn by the music and/or teaching in Life Groups and services. Certainly, some of them desired to be part of a mission-minded church. Perhaps some even long to participate in a certain ministry of the church. However, a church can have all of those components and, yet, be unfriendly and never experience numeric gains.
It is essential for all of us at MeadowBrook to warmly greet all people, members and guests alike. Every Sunday or church gathering, we should go out of our way to express to every person the love and encouragement of Jesus Christ. Doing so will help us to exemplify kingdom of heaven living.
Genuinely and warmly greeting others, without being prompted, communicates love and care.
When our sons were young, they would sometimes have altercations (that is putting it mildly). Often, Kay and I would have to help resolve an issue, which usually ended with a prompting from us, “Tell your brother that you’re sorry.” In a low and muttered tone we would hear, “I’m sorry.” Of course, they were rarely truly sorry, but we still made them say it. (This may not have been our parenting highlight.)
In the same way, most guests are not impressed when I call on the congregation to greet one another and those around them. Many unchurched people believe that such a “greeting” is forced, like a parent requiring a child to say, “I’m sorry.” It is just awkward for them and for some members. However, guests and members are more encouraged when people genuinely and warmly greet them without being prompted.
Not too long ago, Thom Rainer, the President and CEO of LifeWay, did a Twitter poll to ask first-time church guests why they chose not to return to a particular church. Although the poll was not scientific, the top two responses were not uncommon to other polls: #1 Having to stand up and greet one another time in the worship service. #2 Unfriendly church members. According to Rainer, “Many guests perceived some of the church members were faking it.” Ouch!
So what are we to do? We should ask God to use us to express his love and encouragement to members, attenders and guests alike. It is understood that not everyone is extroverted, but everyone can be kind and friendly. Although we have designated people to greet in various places, everyone is a greeter.
Your greeter stations include the area around your parking space, your walking paths to and from the buildings, your Life Group room and your seat-section in the worship center. In other words, each of us are greeters wherever we are stationed at any given time. And with social media, your welcome can extend far beyond a Sunday service or other MB activity.
Genuine friendliness does make a difference. It gives the church a greater opportunity of connecting with the person again—perhaps connecting them to Christ and his Church. You make a difference!
So, if I purposefully move the “howdy doody” time to the end of a service as people are leaving or move it out of the service time altogether, let it be a reminder that MeadowBrook should be the friendliest place in Etowah County. Be reminded that it is only as friendly as you are to the people around you.