by Justin Morton
Do you perceive Walter Hill to be a friendly congregation? I have no doubts most all of us would affirm Walter Hill to be a welcoming church, however, how would our first-time visitors answer that question? The truth is most churches perceive themselves to be friendly because the members are friendly to one another. But visitors might not feel the same way. Paul told the church at Rome to pursue hospitality (Romans 12:13). While we all understand the value of hospitality, many congregations of the Lord’s people are not as warm and welcoming as they perceive themselves to be.
I am currently reading a book by Thom Rainer called Becoming a Welcoming Church. In this book, Rainer points out that most church members never look at their facilities, parking, seating or friendliness through the perspective of a visitor. Over time members have forgotten what it’s like to be a first time guest because they have established relationships and routine—these are definitely important factors for our members! But what about our guests?
Each week we are having more visitors attend Walter Hill. Let’s consider a few ideas that might help to make our guests feel welcome at Walter Hill (Matthew 7:12):
1. Introduce yourself to someone if you do not recognize him or her. Smile and say hello!
2. Ask guests to sit with you, so they are not sitting alone.
3. Scoot to the middle of the row, so there are open seats on the end.
4. Move closer to the front of the auditorium so visitors are not the ones who have to walk up front for a seat.
5. Park on the back side of the building to allow visitors the closer parking spots.
Let’s all make sure our current visitors feel that same welcome we felt when we first came to Walter Hill.