Friday, 22 October 2010

The face in the crowd

At our recent Newfrontiers Prayer & Fasting gathering I had a slight inkling what it must be like to be a visitor to a Church on a Sunday.

In the refreshment break I stood there, and I looked out, and I really could not see anyone I knew.

Just lots and lots of faces.

What is more it felt like everyone else knew each other. People were talking, laughing, hugging, browsing books. Small groups of people were scurrying off into a corner to discuss something strategic. All around me, everyone else, and I felt a bit lonely.

What is strange about that feeling is that I must have known at least 50 people there to talk to. In future breaks I met several friends for coffee and a catch up. I went to the conference with a posse from our local region.

But at that one point in that first break I was just a face in the crowd and I would have given anything for someone to just walk up to me and say "hi".

If I feel like that, what do our visitors on a Sunday feel?

I have a policy of trying to speak to one new person every week. What we really need is everyone doing that.


Charles said...

Very true Dave
I think we often underestimate how difficult it is for new people and visitors to come to church.
I got a very good welcome at your church in the summer; though I did know a few people already so that helped.

Pauline said...

I think this says something for most churches, Dave. When I have been a visitor at your church,I was blessed by some very nice people found who invited me to sit by them, and told me, when I visited again, to look for them. I was on my own though. (Still haven't persuaded my husband to go to church apart from weddings, baptisms and funerals- the old "hatch, match and dispatch!") I wonder if church members (and I include myself at my church, also) are more likely to make an effort to make someone on their own feel welcome and "included." Sometimes, it may feel awkward and "official" for the church members trying to be welcoming, too! What do you say? I once went to a little Baptist church in Wem where I was just naturally able to "fit in" with a family as they had moved from Liverpool to Shropshire, and I now live in the North West, having moved from Shropshire. Maybe it's just the work of the Holy Spirit anyway? How many times do we read in the Bible about people being directed to make contact with certain people?
Maybe ask visitors to fill in a brief questionaire (if they want to!) with a few little details that might be a conversation starter next time?? Definitely being a Shrewsbury Town supporter is a conversation starter!! Interesting one, this- asd it's something we can ALL feel challenged by. Wewant to reach out and have new people in church. WE want visitors. How do we make sure they feel warm and wanted in our midst?? Pauline