When was the last time you visited a place that billed itself as “the unfriendliest church in town?”
I don’t think I’ve ever been to one. But they’re out there in spirit if not in name. Tim Dolan reports that one of his lay ministry students found one.
As an assignment, I encouraged my students to put on their “visitor hat” and attend a local church service to find out for themselves. Normally, students do not take me up on these kinds of challenges. Barb did. Barb attended a worship service as a first time visitor the very next Sunday and reported back to me what she had experienced.
Barb’s experience at this church confirmed what I feared. No one greeted her at the door when she entered the church building. A man standing in the narthex did not know what time the service began… No one greeted her as she entered the sanctuary and sat down. One woman came along with a bus load of children and gave Barb that “you’re sitting in our pew” glare… When Barb went forward for communion, the pastor simply stared at her and said nothing. Just a blank stare.
After the service, not one person came up to her or greeted her. After what seemed like an eternity, Barb finally left. As she entered the parking lot, she noticed the pastor fully engaged with a church member, so she quietly slipped away.
Is it an understatement to say that “churches are not always as welcoming to first time visitors as they like to think they are”? Church hospitality needs to be continually refreshed. Pastor, this is so important that you can’t afford to delegate this to just anyone. Find someone with passion about church hospitality!