John and Kari had visited several churches. One, in particular felt warm and friendly. The members seemed friendly. Several spoke to John and Kari each Sunday. A couple of ladies in the church even asked one Sunday for Kari and John to visit their Bible study class.
John and Kari enjoyed the music and the pastor’s messages. After a few weeks they joined the church. It wasn’t long afterward until the seat where John and his wife sat every Sunday were once again vacant. Some members questioned among themselves about the whereabouts of John and Kari. No one knew.
This scenario is played out week after week in churches around the United States and your church is not exempt. Sometimes we do a good job with “courting” visitors. While they are checking us out, trying to find a comfortable fit, we treat them like true guests. Yet, once they join we leave them to swim on their own. The difficulty is they are in uncharted waters – uncharted for them at least. It would be similar to taking a common man of the street who has never seen the inside of a cockpit and sitting him in the pilot seat of a space shuttle and expecting him to fly to the space station and back.
Other times, we go through the motions of telling people we care and we are glad they are here, but we never truly let them in. We do not always realize it. After speaking to guests we become so involved with our own friends and longtime church “buddies” that we forget what it is like to be new. Guests, visitors, and new members do not have the advantage of knowing all the ins and outs of your church. They do not know how to get plugged in, and we assist them in their fog by not helping them.
We recognize and even speak friendly to visitors, but we treat them like visitors, not guests. A guest is someone you are expecting and you desire them to stay. You have prepared for them ahead of time and you take care of them, waiting on them as a host or hostess. A visitor is someone who shows up on your doorstep and you are cordial to them. All the while you are wondering when they are going to leave.
They ride the bubble for a while and eventually they end up as John and Kari – gone – and no one knows where or why. Nor does anyone attempt to rescue the drowning new member.
Visitors and new members need to be needed. It is important that we open our circle of influence to include new members, allowing them to be all that God has called them to be. After all, by not allowing someone to be all God has created them to be, we are not being all that God has called us to be.
Every person God places in our lives, He places for us to in some way edify and that through him/her the Holy Spirit may in some way edify us. How do you personally go the extra mile to make those new people in your life feel welcome and needed? .