The line hit me like a punch. “Every person who walks through the doors of your church is a gift from God.” As I read this line in a book called Fusion by Nelson Searcy I was so convicted by the concept that I immediately repented for my lackadaisical attitude towards guests.
The truth is for a long time church has been about me just wanting God to show up and cared about nothing else. If the Holy Spirit was there that’s all that matters. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe you should be having a church service if the Spirit of God doesn’t show up and change lives. If we come sing a few songs, share someone else’s thoughts from a book we read and go home how are we different from any other religion? No we serve a living God who must be present for me to call it a good service.
BUT think of this…The Holy Spirit moves upon the heart of lost and desperate sinner and after perhaps years of working on them, get the person to go to a church. God then looks all around are city and chooses our church to send that person to, trusting us with their eternal destiny. Wow, how we treat that person is huge!
There is 7 minutes to make a first impression. To be effective in reaching the first time guest we must recognize the power of the subconscious in making a first impression. Things like atmosphere, cleanliness, and friendliness of people become more important than preaching or church programs when we’re talking about a first impression. Everything in your church speaks to guests. How they are greeted, directed, treated and seated are important as well as the condition of the parking lot, the smell of the lobby, how clean things are, and whether there are signs directing them clearly. What message is our church sending? We must find ways to look through the guests eyes.
We can have great worship, and excellent message preached but they have already made up their minds before those things whether to return or not. The unchurched person goes more by feeling than rational choices. “I just didn’t feel connected.” “Everything was fine. I don’t know, I think I’ll keep checking.” The intangibles are so important to the subconscious thoughts. They either feel welcomed and cared about or an intrusion.
We must be willing to change things anything that is confusing or make guests feel like they don’t belong. Tomorrow we’ll look at the story of one first time guest.