August 31, 2009
– Dateline yesterday.
I had been on the church campus for over two hours already…prowling the grounds, looking at the building, watching the day accelerate from start and now well into the second service. I decided to go back out the front entry and just see what I could find of interest. And I found a lot that I think will help the church be even more effective in opening up ways for people to come towards Jesus.
We were there yesterday to look the church over and do an evaluation of everything on Sunday morning.
From the parking, to point of entry, to the facility cleanliness and the strength and effectiveness of worship and teaching it proved to be a great church.
And now it was 11:15.
As I re-approached the entry, I saw four teens standing together, nicely dressed, but looking uncertain as to what to do. One stood a bit apart and I approached her with a friendly, "Hi, I'm Dave. How are you doing?" Her response, a very shy - "Ok, I guess."
"Are you new here?"
"Yes, it's my first day."
"Can I help you figure this place out a bit?"
Almost in a whisper…."Yes…thank you."
I moved towards the three standing nearby her…and discovered that all of them had never been here before either. They didn't know where to go, what to do, how to respond…..but then it hit me, how much they must be hungry for God to come and risk (as teens!) and enter a new (and mayby crazy!) world!
(The music was sounding strong from the auditorium, worship was in full swing.) There were only a handful of people left in the sweep-around front corridor….almost everyone had gone into the service and the place was almost full. One of them saw us and came over with a bulletin to give. That helped.
They seemed to relax a bit and smile more genuinely as I offered to take them up a flight of stairs and make sure they found a place to sit.
And then I left them in the hands of an usher, ready to find them a place to sit, and in his kindness to help them begin to discover what God is really like.
And I wonder if they were among the eight at the end of the service, that indicated a desire to encounter Jesus personally.
And I thought of what a great compliment He had paid to all of us in bringing such special people into this community.
And in my heart I volunteered to be a greeter until I can't stand on two feet or shake hands any more. J
…shy, but hungry.
And Jesus, only Jesus, can make them into world-changers and family-builders and prophets and teachers….and heaven-dwellers.
And some of us get to be the first to say "hello."
If you are a pastor reading this, I hope you have a greeter's ministry that really connects with people. Anyone can hand out a bulletin – and some do as a task, a have-to, a I hope-this-gets-done-soon job - but what a difference it can make if they learn to reach out and quickly love people, to see people as Jesus sees them…and make them start to feel like perhaps they have just come home. If they see what they are doing, not as volunteer service, but as a critical pre-birth ministry it will make a great difference indeed.
I hope that your greeters won't just get done, and then leave the entryways too quickly. I hope that they will realize that visitors probably come a bit late (at best), and often have to take the furthest away parking places (?) and navigate to the entry (if they can find it) and enter a new world (will it be ok?). Maybe they have come late to avoid too much crowd…and just sneak in unobtrusively. Jesus ran a welcoming ministry, but remember, they came to Him often "by night."
Ah, they have been brought there by the Spirit of God…but the final steps into life in Jesus will have to be by becoming part of the world of some people who know Him well, and just can't wait to introduce one more person to Him.
May the front doors of our churches be so full of sensitivity and love that people just can't wait to go all the way into Life with Christ.