This is the story of how I was able to help one person feel welcomed in the parking lot.
One day I was leaving the church office about 6:30pm when I saw a man on a motor cycle looking at the sign on our youth sanctuary door. The sign said, “12 Step Program was Cancelled Tonight.” I called out, “If you’re here for the 12 Step program it’s cancelled tonight.” “I’m not here for that.” He responded. “Although I have been to one before.” I asking him, “Well can I help you with something?” He became defensive saying he wasn’t doing anything wrong. I told him I didn’t think he was. I asked his name, for this blog we’ll call him Mac.
This began a significant conversation in Mac’s life. We actually talked for over an hour. After talking a lot about church, God and life Mac finally got to the real issue. With tears beginning to form in his eyes, Mac asked me an extremely honest question, “Would your church accept me?” “Of course they would.” I responded without hesitation. Mac then told me how he had found the Lord in prison and was recently released but since getting out he couldn’t find a good church. Mac told me that the two churches he had been to so far made him feel very unwelcome. In one church the usher actually came up to Mac as he stood in the back of the church and asked him what he was doing there! I assured Mac that the House of Praise is full of people that genuinely love God and love people.
To my surprise, that Sunday Mac came to service. According to him, Mac was warmly greeted and given a gift by our greeters. The ushers smiled at him and introduced themselves offering assistance finding a seat. It happened to be friendship Sunday so there was a spaghetti dinner after service. I told Mac, I bought his ticket. As I stood talking to someone I saw Mac sheepishly walk into the youth building looking around as to where he should go. One of the seasoned members grabbed Mac and said, “Hey sit with us.” I watched Mac loosen up over the next hour until he was laughing freely and meeting new friends.
That was over a year ago. I’ve had the privilege of baptizing Mac and seeing him become a member. He is in a small group, serving in the church has made new friends. He now regularly meets new people and tells them “You will love it here!”
When I think of his story I think, “That’s why we’re here.” How would Mac’s have been treated if he walked into your church?