Enjoying the Journey
We were in a meeting in a large city, a city known for sizable churches and well known preachers. One afternoon I had the privilege to visit two churches that I have heard about for years. I was not there to speak. In fact, I did not know a soul at either church. I was just a normal visitor off the street.
This is what made my visit so very interesting. You see, the churches were different in many respects, but especially in one – the way they received visitors.
At the first church a kind lady greeted us in the parking lot, “Park anywhere you like and we will walk in together.” We. Amazing what two letters can convey.
She took the time to walk us through both the facility and history of the church. She waited patiently as we wandered through the auditorium and answered all of our questions. Though the pastor was away she made a point to introduce us by name to his assistant. When I asked if I could pick up one of their Sunday bulletins, she hurried off to find several study guides she thought we would also enjoy.
This lady enjoyed her ministry, loved her church, and was happy to share it with others. On our way out the door she wished us God’s blessing on our work and encouraged us to come back soon. It was almost as if we were family. Indeed, we were. And the love of our Father was evident in the family members there.
In a matter of a few moments we drove the few miles to yet another famous church. A security guard met us at the front entrance and had us sign in. We were given a badge and asked to wait for a few minutes while they tried to find someone to talk to us.
Another security guard soon arrived and in an exasperated tone explained that it would be impossible for us to see the church. An appointment is required in advance. And so, we turned in our badges, signed out 3 minutes after we had signed in, and walked out the door without speaking to anyone.
I share these two snapshots, not as a criticism, but as a reminder. I am certain that the second church loves people as much as the first, and I am grateful for security measures in place. But for the first time in a long time I felt what others must feel from time to time when they walk on to the property of our churches…
Visitors are either honored guests or an unfortunate imposition.
In the ministry where I was privileged to work for so long we were trained that when a visitor arrives we were to drop everything. Do not tell them where to go; take them. Every person, every word, every gesture reveals whether guests are a priority or an interruption.
Why do we have a church facility? To welcome any and all who are searching for truth! To evangelize, encourage, and equip.
In the midst of our buildings and busy schedules we must never neglect people. Without them there is no church.
What story will visitors tell when they leave our church this week?