It's a complex thing, isn't it?
I mean, for Christ followers, we are used to being together for weekly corporate worship. The point of the gathering is God, not us. We know that. However, in the midst of our coming together as God's church, He always seems to bring those who do not know Him to the gathering.
We know where to park, where to drop off the kids, where to sit, where the coffee is, where the restroooms are (needed after knowing where the coffee is), etc. Even if you've attended for just a short time, the familiarity of how your church "does" church becomes innate. Yet, those who are guests, in the crowd, . . .just don't know.
God is drawing people to Himself, as He always has. He is not limited to doing so just on Easter Sunday, but he will use this day, perhaps because culturally, many will be open to hear. God is choosing to use His children (you and I) for His glory on this Sunday (and every day, for that matter.)
Here are some things that can help you get ready for this unique gathering where potentially many unchurched will join the church:
- Be strategic in welcoming each other, not weird.
- Dont' make guests stand up and be singled out. They already feel singled out.
- Greet everyone. Don't wimp out in this area with some tepid excuse like "I don't know if they're a member or guest." If you don't know them. . .you don't know them, so greet them.
- Don't hug people just because "you're a hugger." That's weird. Unless you're related to the "huggee". . . stop doing this.
- Be early. Guests are rarely late or even right on time on Easter. Every Easter in recent memory, I find our worship area filled with guests sitting uncomfortably in an semi-empty room wondering if anyone even attends the church.
- Smile, but don't be fake. No one likes fake.
- Remember, no one has reserved seating.
- Park in the back. Leave the best spots for guests. It's about being hospitable.
- Don't expect a guest to know where anything is.
- If a guest asks where to go, don't point to some other room or building and say "Over there." Take the time to walk with them to the children's check-in area or Welcome Center. Make sure someone is taking care of their needs before you leave.
- If guests have their small children or babies in the worship service, deal with it. It may be distracting. Children tend to act like children. Babies have been known to cry at times, too. The parents may not know there is a preschool or children's ministry available. Even if they do, they may not be at a place personally where they're comfortable leaving their child with strangers. So, work to not remain a stranger. Don't say something snide like "We have a nursery, you know!" to them. They're response will be "Bye."
- Don't expect a guest to know what's expected.
- Don't look down on others.
- Don't laugh at others.
- Don't be "that person."
- If you have a guest in your small group, don't leave them out of the conversation while you catch up with your long lost friends you haven't seen for seven days.
- Eat a breath mint. Good policy for life, not just Easter. If you drink coffee, your breath stinks. If you eat food, your breath stinks. If you forgot to brush your teeth, your breath stinks. Just presume your breath always stinks and have a breath mint ready.
God is at work, even now, for what He will do tomorrow, on Easter, next month, next year, etc. What's amazing is that He has invited us to join him in this work.
Many will gather with the church next Sunday. May we remember to be the hands and feet of Jesus (not just on Easter, but all the time) and truly love God and others.