Reset – Reset Our Welcome

“You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”
‭‭Leviticus‬ ‭19:34‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭25:35, 40‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I received some feedback the past few weeks from guests I have invited to church.  We have also had guests that have come for baptisms or this last week for the Ordination of Michael Rivera. Feedback I received is that we are a friendly church, but mostly friendly to each other. Greeters say “hi” but beyond that people do not engage much. I found this is common in many churches. CROSSROADS strives to be a place where people feel loved and accepted. Here are some tips if you see someone new hanging around on a Sunday morning.

Hi! I am _____________. Have we met before? I am so glad you are here. Affirm the fact that they showed up for worship. I have heard from numerous CROSSROADS guests who returned because they were simply told “we are glad you’re here.”

Let me help you with that.” If you see someone struggling with umbrellas, young children, diaper bags, purses, and other items, a gesture to hold something for them is a huge positive. Of course, this comment is appropriate for us to help each other as well.

Can I show you where you need to go?” Even in smaller churches like CROSSROADS, guests will not know where to find the nursery, restrooms, and small group meeting areas. You can usually tell when a guest does not know where he or she is to go. Bring them over to Pastor Deb or myself and we are also glad to help show them around.  

Please take my Seat.” This comment came from a member to a young family of five who were trying to find a place to sit together. I was so blessed as a pastor last Sunday to see a member of CROSSROADS give up their seat. Slide away from the aisle or get up and let a guest or guests take a seat particularly if they enter late. It is simple courtesy, but we can get used to sitting in our usual seats.

Let me introduce you to ___________.” The return rate of guests is always higher if they meet other people. Take the opportunity to introduce the guest to one of our pastors, other church staff, and other members of the church. Be sure to wear your nametag so new people can get to know your name easily.

“Come sit with me.” Inviting someone to sit with you shows guests you are invested in them, and gives them a sense of belonging they wouldn’t have if they sat somewhere by themselves. Obviously, use this one with discretion for it’s possible they would prefer to sit elsewhere, but if conversation seems to come easy between you both consider inviting them to sit with you.

Here is my email address or cell phone number. Please let me know if I can help in any way.” Of course, this comment must be used with discretion, but it can be a positive message to a guest to say you are willing to connect.

Would you join us for lunch?” I saved this question for last for two reasons. First, the situation must obviously be appropriate before you offer the invitation. Second, I have seen this approach have the highest guest return rate of any one factor. “Lunch Bunch” does this at Inver Grove Heights Campus quite well. We need to seek ways to let others connect with us and as Scripture tell us to welcome the stranger.

CROSSROADS is an awesome church with amazing people. Let’s all work together to offer the love of Jesus in practical ways to all who enter. Let us do what Jesus commands to heal the sick, share good news of the Kingdom of God and welcome the stranger in our midst.

In Christ’s love and service,

Pastor Paul Marzahn