People like to say that first impressions last a lifetime. It’s true for the first time you meet someone, but it’s also true for the first time you meet a group of people.
Each Sunday, you could have newcomers at your church. They’re having their first impression of your church community, perhaps their first impression of Christians, and maybe even their first impression of Jesus.
Do you consider what the newcomer’s first worship experience at your church will be like? How can you as an individual make his or her visit comfortable instead of awkward?
Let’s look at some easy, practical steps you can take to contribute to a welcoming environment.
Arriving early puts you in a relaxed mindset and prepares you to connect with God and others. This Sunday, will you plan to arrive at church 15 minutes earlier? This simple step will probably make you more cheerful and ready to smile and greet those around you. Arriving early helps to prepare your hearts and minds before worship service begins. Arriving early at worship means you arrive before guests and can be ready to greet and help with other needs in the community if needed.
When people come for the first time, they usually want to stay anonymous. If regular attendees like you sit closer to the front, you can leave the seats in the back for those who are new. They feel more comfortable and enjoy the service.
Often newcomers show up late for one reason or another. Will you serve them by leaving the aisle seats open for those who come late? This will allow them to slip into a seat quickly and be less awkward about scooting past you down the narrow gap between chairs. It’ll help them to have the Sunday experience without being embarrassed. Remember to smile and say 'hi'.
Look for a need and offer to meet that need. This can also apply to your bulletin, pens, or even tissues!
What if everyone in our church communities took simple steps like these? As we institute practical habits, let’s pray that God will transform our hearts to find more ways to love those who are new or unfamiliar in our churches.