Have you ever been to a church, particularly your first time in a new church, for whatever the reason, and you just didn’t feel like you were welcome there?Or, maybe you’ve been to the church where 17 people greet you between your car and the front door and tell you how glad they are to see you, and you wonder if they’re trying to sell you a new car if you’ll just sit down and listen to the “free” sales pitch?
Why did you go to church in the first place? What were you looking for behind those doors? Was it friendship? Understanding? A relationship? Help? A good time? God?
What brought you back after your first visit to a particular church? Was it the people? Familiarity — now that you’ve been there you might as well go back? Was it hope in something bigger than you? Maybe it was the music, or even the attractive person you saw sitting a few pews away during last week’s service. Or, could it have been the captivating stories the pastor told during last week’s sermon that made you return?
How do we pick a particular church to attend? Is it because a friend mentioned it at work one day and he or she told where they go — or even better, invited you? Could it be you simply saw a particular church building on your way to the market one morning and thought that might be a good place to try? Maybe you were flipping through radio stations, purposefully looking for a good, Christian station in hopes of being pointed to a church through an advertisement or some other mention. Maybe you even went a bit further and did some of your own research to find a local church. So how did you come to choose THAT particular church? Was it the word “Baptist” or “Nazarene” or “Catholic” or “Methodist” in the name? Maybe you picked out a church that had none of those names listed, but gave you some other impression that they were non-denominational, and that seems to fit your style better for one reason or another.
While some would suggest that it was that still-small voice within (God whispering to you) that drew you to a particular church, whether by invite or by pure happenstance, you made it to church. We’ve all been there, particularly if we didn’t grow up attending church as a child and somehow as an adult found ourselves darkening the doorway of a local church.
What keeps you going to church? Are you a Christian looking for a home church or are you someone merely looking for … something, but you’re not quite sure what it is just yet?
Let me speak to those of you in the second group? Why do you come back to that particular church? What draws you back? Something drew you there in the first place, but what is it that keeps you coming back?
Whatever it was: the pastor’s funny stories, the music, the programs for children, the variety of Sunday School groups to choose from… were you MADE to feel welcome and were you INVITED to return?
I once attended a church in a city I’d never been to. Long story short, I was there for a few weeks at a very dark period in my life, looking for some like-minded people to fellowship with.
I found in this church a congregation of accepting, warm and inviting people. I found in this church one person in particular whom I may never see again this side of Heaven, who took some time out to show me around and actually introduce me to people.
Am I that kind of person… someone who will seek the opportunity to befriend someone apparently new in church and actually get to know them and then introduce them to others?