If I were a church visitor, I’d like church members to (534 votes):
• Smile. Talk to me. Get to know me (43 percent).
• Accept me and show me Jesus’ love (13 percent).
• Welcome me but don’t make me stand and introduce myself
• Leave me alone — let me be anonymous (9 percent).
(Source: An unscientific poll taken at www.thelutheran.org)
When I was pastor of a small church in a rural village, we didn’t have too many visitors on Sundays. There were some family guests at baptisms and those who showed up for Christmas Eve and Easter worship services. But by and large the number of guests wasn’t enough to shake a stick at.
Maybe that’s why we mobbed a young couple when they visited one spring Sunday.
When a church has 100 or fewer at worship, everyone knows who the visitors are. For months we talked about being hospitable, warm and welcoming to visitors. I encouraged every member to be warm and friendly whenever people walked through our doors.
After worship that Sunday I greeted the couple and welcomed them to the congregation. They smiled, shook my hand and thanked me.
Another person came up and greeted them. Then another. And another, and another and another. Soon the two were surrounded by a mob of well-meaning Christians wanting to be friendly.
The couple never came back. And I can’t blame them. We killed them with kindness.
Gary Hamel, author of What Matters Now (Jossey-Bass, 2012), encourages organizations caught in the pursuit of relentless change and unstoppable innovation to focus on what really matters: values, innovation, adaptability, passion and ideas.
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© 2016 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers