Strangers among us

Most churches can, and should, do a better job of making sure that visitors feel welcome.

 Where were these words spoken?

1. “Greetings! How are you today?”

2. “Hello! I’m so very pleased you are with us today. How can I assist you?”

3. “I’m so glad you came in today. If there is anything I can do, let me know.”

4. “Can I help you find your way around? Are you looking for something specific?”

Having served for eight years as director of church music for the Florida Baptist Convention and having had multiple opportunities to visit many churches during past years, I wish I could report that the four statements above came from the churches I visited, and was the way I was greeted, and that these comments are typical of all churches.

Unfortunately, this is not true. Where do you think these statements were made? Here are the answers:

1. Sam’s Club.

2. Walmart Super Store.

3. SuperTarget.

4. Bi-Lo Grocery.

I have been in church after church where not one person spoke to me, acknowledged my presence or gave me any direction.

Once in a while, I’d get a nod and “Hello,” but the person would pass on by. Occasionally, I’d get a “Welcome. Are you a visitor?” When I replied, “Yes,” their reply was “Glad to have you today,” and the person would continue on their way. It was rare indeed that I was warmly greeted, made to feel welcome or asked if I needed directions to any place in particular.

Don’t misunderstand, I wasn’t looking to be recognized, pampered or royally welcomed. These people didn’t know me from Adam’s housecat. To them, I was just someone they did not know.

Remember, these days it is rare indeed if someone comes to a church by himself/herself without invitation and being accompanied by a church member, but it does happen.

Therefore, the church family should be keenly aware of making people feel welcome and make sure they know where to go, even if it’s to the nearest restroom.

I think our people can and should do a better job of welcoming people to their churches. Do you?

This post originally ran on the site on August 10, 2012.

Bob Burroughs

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About the Author
Bob Burroughs is a composer and arranger who directed the Florida Baptist Convention church music department until his retirement in 2002. He is author of What Think Ye?: Essays for Twenty-First Century Leaders, Pastors, and Church Musicians.

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