My family recently undertook the unfamiliar challenge of finding a church home.
After 12 years serving a local church, we no longer had an automatic church family resulting from my job or appointment. Instead, we have a choice in determining which congregation we will call home.
Before beginning the quest in earnest, I spent time navigating a local United Methodist church’s informative website. I was able to select which worship service we would attend and found information about Sunday school classes for my four year-old child as well as my husband and me.
Sunday morning came and off we were to church. My son was excited to meet new friends in both the preschool children’s program during the second half of worship as well as in Sunday school.
Upon arrival, however, we discovered that all children’s and adult ministries had been cancelled for the day.
I don't have a problem with children sitting through worship. On the contrary, I think it's important for them to be part of the corporate body. Had I known he would sit through the entire service with us, I would have prepared accordingly. I also would not have gotten him excited about meeting new friends.
When I told the woman at the information table that the cancellation notice hadn't appeared on the website, she explained that emails had been sent to the congregation.
This experience didn't prevent us from returning to this church the following week. I understand churches drop the ball from time to time when it comes to hospitality. I have been guilty of making sure information was communicated to members but neglected to think about visitors. While this experience didn't deter my family, another family may not have been willing to give the church a second chance.
Sadly, today, few of our congregations have visitors who walk in off the street without invitation or prompting. If your congregation does, count yourself blessed! Make sure your folks are trained to think regularly about unexpected visitors.
- How is information disseminated in your congregation?
- How is "the other" received when they cross the threshold of your church?
Remember, as the church, we are called to offer hospitality and demonstrate the love of Christ to others.