I'm on vacation this week, but while I'm off I wanted to pass along an article that I originally wrote back in September 2015 on how to love your neighbour in the pew.
You may think there's a typo in my title. Often pastors talk about the importance of not just being Sunday Christians. "We've got to live out the good news throughout the week." That's really important to me, too. But I think it's important to think about how to be Christian – how to act Christian – when we come to church on Sunday, too. There are many things we could talk about, and so this is a theme I will revisit in the future, but for now let's talk about loving our neighbour in the pew.
We believe Jesus when He said that our faith is fundamentally about our love for God and our love for our neighbour. But in the busyness of rushing into church on Sunday morning it's easy not to think about how to do that. As we park, we can try to save spaces near the church for guests. And when we see newcomers, we can greet them and introduce ourselves. But here are some other things you can say to guests on Sunday morning:
"I'm glad you're here!" Think of what God has done for you through times of worship over the years and express your excitement that this person has taken the step to visit the church.
"Is there anything I can do to help you get settled?" Finding the nursery, the washrooms, a place to hang your coat or even the sanctuary itself can be a challenge at first. Let's be a church that goes out of its way to offer help.
"Why don’t we sit together." When the sanctuary starts to fill up, people can start to feel possessive about marking out their territory. When people walk in as visitors, they can feel that. Guests can feel like the new kid on the school bus when no one wants to offer a seat. What a witness it is when guests don’t have to sit alone because they are embraced by others who sit with them. What a witness it is when our people arrive early to take the unpopular seats at the front and in the middle rather than the aisles. What a witness it is when our people move so that families are able to sit together.
Let me introduce you to ________." Introduce new people to me, introduce families with youth to our youth leaders, introduce families with children to our Sunday School workers. Introduce guests to other people. Getting to know new people can be one of the most difficult parts of attending a new church. Let's make it easy for guests by making the introductions for them. And please gently encourage them to fill out a visitor's card because this is one of the key ways that we can follow up and connect with people as a church.
"Are you free for lunch?" Most people can't do this every week. But it will transform our church if, even once a month, people offer hospitality to people they don't know as well. Let's build a family here at Grace and practice Biblical fellowship and see what God will do!
These suggestions are adapted from a couple of articles you can read here:
In awe of Him,