Five of us walked into a busy restaurant. We were told we’d have a 20-30 minute wait. Since we were at a large convention this seemed to be not so bad an option. However, 30 minutes came and went. Then 45, 50, 55 minutes, one hour and five minutes after entering the restaurant, we were seated. It was not only our party of five. Every group was waiting this long. But alas, finally seated we ordered (some of us, me included, had to change our order due to out of stock menu items). We ordered, waited, and waited, and waited. We had submitted our names on the waiting list at 6:28 and received our food at 8:26. It was a late supper, but we did eat.
I share this true story because it has several comparisons to many churches – and other organizations as well. While the restaurant was known for good food and I’m certain they were trying to keep up, there were several issues. The largest of which was there was not enough workers to carry the load. This is all too often the case in churches. Only in churches members (workers) are not getting paid. Therefore, they sit back and expect others to genuinely greet people, clean tables, prepare the meal, serve and take care of others (metaphorically speaking).
Jesus said, “The fields are white unto harvest (there are many people waiting to be seated at the kings table), Pray to the Lord of the Harvest to send out workers into the field. He didn’t say recruit workers, bring them in, and send them out to work. The implication is they are already here, send them out. Get to it. People are hungry, not only for bread and burgers, but for love and acceptance. There is an innate desire in each of us to be loved and accepted. This is the level of psychological need where people enter your church.
We stayed and ate at the restaurant that night. But I do not know how eager any of us would be to return anytime soon. The same is true at church. People come in looking to be accepted, seeking a place to belong. Yet, research has recently shown people attending churches for the first time sensed only superficial greetings from church members. Church members greetings were not genuine, authentic.
What can you do personally to move your church to be a more accepting, genuinely authentic, welcoming body to all newcomers?
George Yates is the Church Health Strategist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, assisting churches and individuals in pursuing God’s purpose for life. Learn more at ALSBOM.org/revitalization.