It's Sunday morning. You're at church heading for the service. Or you are in your chair just before the service starts. You notice someone in the foyer you've never seen before. You notice someone sitting over there and you don't know who they are. You are a Christian, a member of this church! and there is "sojourner" over there.
This scenario familiar to you? Assuming we know the "why" (joyfully building up...), what do we do?
We can't display the supernatural unity of the gospel from our couch or the coffee shop. Showing up for the preaching of the Word, worship of God, and fellowship with the the body is a members first service to guests. It is the most basic display of the gospel bringing us together--literally together. Hap-hazard participation in the main gathering of the church reveals indifference to the guests God providentially brings our way (much less our members!). It might also reveal a deeper selfishness where in gathering with the church is mostly about getting something for yourself whenever you feel like it. We ought to gather regularly because of the command of God's word and our need for strength in the faith. We ought to gather regularly out of love for one another.
Think about the person you met your first Sunday. Who invited you to Lifegroup? Who talked with you after the service and welcomed you? What if they'd stayed home?
Guest should never sit alone because we didn't try. How many guests at church when asked, "Hey can we sit with you?" have said, "No thanks."
We all know the difference between pleasantries and personal connections. Pleasantries don't necessarily make people feel welcome. The Verizon Wireless rep will shake your hand when you walk in their door. The used car salesman will smile and say, "I'm so glad you're here today."
Go beyond pleasant to personal. By that I don't mean start out by asking, "So what's your sin struggle?" Ask to sit with them. Where are you from? How long have you been in Austin? How did you find out about our church? How are you doing? How can I pray for you? Get to know them and be with them forsaking any fears that you will have to be their new pastor or best friend. We're in this together.
Come to church with lunch plans, by that I mean plan on inviting a guest to lunch. This takes some forethought. If you are married or have a family it might mean putting something in the crockpot--enough to feed serval extra (which might be a budget issue too). It means that on Friday someone says, "Honey, let's keep our Sunday lunch open for guests this week (or every week)". It means praying on Saturday night, "God we know that you have a plan and that you stirs hearts. Help us be prepared to receive those you might bring to our worship service tomorrow." Then it means doing #1, #2, and now #4 in faith.
How different would your life be if you displayed the gospel like this as a weekly rhythm where every Sunday is about lunch with a guest or church member?
Maybe lunch doesn't work out. Maybe they already have plans. Maybe you don't get to talk to them too much. Exchange phone numbers and/or emails. Then do something with it. I think many feel the fear that if they get someone's number they have to call them every day, invite them on family vacation, and write them into their wills. Just write a note. Attending a new church can be daunting for many. Getting 12 phone calls from the church member you just met six hours ago sends the wrong message. Just connect with them. "Hey, great meeting you this week. Hope to see you next week. Is there any way I can pray for you this week?" As the Lord leads, "Hey, great talking with you this week. Wanna grab coffee/lunch?" "Great meeting you this week. My family wanted to invite you over for dinner." And so on.
This is not weird. For one, it happens at the gym, at coffee shops, at playgrounds, and work meetings all the time. Why not church? Furthermore, we are compelled by love, are we not? Don't we love them? Has not God loved us and come to us and spoken to us in order to invite us into fellowship with him (1 John 1:1-4)? Has not God come to us when we were in Egypt?
Lost people come to church. Sometimes they don't know they are lost. Sometimes they have the self awareness they are not really religious and this is all new. We ought to be prepared, willing, and bold to share Christ with them. Think about this....they. came. to. a. church. today! Rarely has anyone stumbled in thinking we are HEB and then stayed the whole service. People come to church for some spiritual reason. Their reason surely has something to do with God and where they are spiritually. It is not awkward, then, to get to know them and find out where they are spiritually and encourage them. What is awkward is for people to visit a church and no one personally talks with them about spiritual things. That is the stranger thing.
After the service I get the chance to talk with people, sometimes guests. It is not awkward to ask them, "So, what did you guys think of the service today? Did you find anything helpful or encouraging? Can I answer any questions for you?" Members may have more freedom to ask, "how would you respond to the message today?" than the pastor. He can sound like he's looking for applause. Sometimes people close up and get shy and feel awkward when asked questions like this. Most often they engage, if even a little. But we ought not ignore the fact that we are Christians and they came to our worship gathering where we pray, read the Bible out loud, preach the Bible, and worship God by singing. It's a spiritual event centered on Christ. They should leave knowing that this is not just a public service, but a gathering of people who care about their souls.
For His Glory,
Comments for this post have been disabled