What Does it Take?

I’m very interested in what it takes to 1. get people to church, 2. get them to join the church, and 3. get them to go back outside the church to bring more people with them into the church! There are LOTs of books and resources and experts and theories about each of these. There are all sorts of creative marketing and complicated plans for those things…However, tonight I heard a story that absolutely warmed my heart and illustrates how simple it can be.

We had a first-time visitor show up at church one morning and she asked a long-time member of our church for some help finding Sunday School. This member walked with the mom to three different Sunday School classes (one for each of her kids) and then gave up attending her own Sunday School class that day so that she could sit with our visitor during worship. During worship the visitor kept saying, “I’m so glad you’re here with me” to our member. That was a little while ago and this visitor has now gotten involved in worship on her own…thanks to someone taking the opportunity to show hospitality to a stranger.

Welcoming outsiders into the church does sometimes mean giving things up: a nearby parking space, our favorite pew, or even a Sunday School class. But, it is a simple act to show love to a stranger by being present with them and helping them feel welcome. I’m so impressed by this story, and I’m sure it happens every week…but what if every single one of us could do this every single Sunday? Walk a visitor to the nursery or Sunday School – Park down the street and walk to church so the parking lot won’t be too full for visitors – Sit with someone who is sitting alone and would like company…all simple things, but they make for a radical atmosphere of hospitality!

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