By Glenda Pearson
“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders ….” (Colossians 4:5 HCSB)
Few would debate that our culture is rapidly declining in its enthusiasm for church and biblical teaching. If you were to step back and take a really close objective look at your own congregations, you might understand why.
Let me say here: I love and fully support the local church. Scripture calls us to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. Some of us, however, are making it difficult for the outsider to want to enthusiastically participate.
So what can be done? Here are five practical steps to take to start the journey:
- Let it go. I realize that catchy Disney song is now stuck in your head, but as it does, do a mental check. Let go of your former ideas about who should be attending your church, how they should dress, how they should act and the sins they should be hiding. Our culture is lost and without hope. The church should be an inviting place for them to find it with open arms and open hearts.
- Accept change. While God’s Word never changes, life experiences do. Whether it’s the church pew color, that young person’s hair color or — dare I say it? — the music, always be in prayer about how God is best glorified. I do believe God is in the details, but he also is capable of handling many of them himself. If it’s not in conflict with Scripture, ask God to show you how to embrace it. Satan loves to create disunity within our walls to make sure we’re too busy to go outside them.
- Be prepared. No matter the size of your congregation, someone should be available to greet your guests and give them the information they need to get started. Make sure you have marked parking spots for first-time guests. Have a welcome center in your church lobby or at main entrances, with someone available to answer questions. Train your volunteers and class teachers to be engaging and ready for guests in their classes, particularly for the children of your guests. Keep your facilities clean and smelling nice. It’s very similar to expecting guests in your home and making them feel comfortable.
- Know your spiritual gifts. It’s true that God has gifted each of us with at least one spiritual gift. Do you know yours? There are several spiritual gift helps available, so ask your pastors to guide you if you don’t know. Then engage with your church family in using them. Your spiritual gift might just be the one missing to help lead guests coming through your church doors into a relationship with Christ.
- Pray for your guests. This step is crucial. It’s no accident who and why God draws someone to attend, so be in prayer for them to feel welcome and ready to hear what God has to say to them. It may even be your own family member or friend. God is giving us the opportunity to join him and be a vessel for sharing His redemptive story!
When all else fails and you don’t know what to do, be loving, be kind, smile and gently share the great hope and love of Jesus Christ. If you’re ready, he’s giving you a front row seat to his life-changing miracles.
Glenda Pearson was the Guest Services Coordinator for New Vision Baptist Church in Murfreesboro. Glenda is married to Steve and mother to her daughter Loren, to her son Bailey, mother-in-law to Jessie and grandmother to Adeline. Glenda enjoys traveling, reading, family, and running.