This weekend, on the OFBC Facebook page, Leslie Jones issued a challenge:
"Excited to worship tomorrow!
Praying that God will prepare our hearts to receive His Word and all those who will be teaching/leading, as well...solid rest, no distractions, and full to the brim with the Holy Spirit.
Would like to challenge all of you who usually attend to SEEK OUT anyone who is new/newer or even not new, but have never met and say "hello!", to introduce yourself and make them feel welcome!! It's not easy coming into a church our size where everyone already knows one other and has their own routine! Get rid of that tunnel vision and seek out someone new!!
I pray that our hearts are full of joy and excitement as we see new faces to worship with! Show Christ's love and remember why we join together in corporate worship!
All for His glory!"
Woo!! Challenge accepted! Curious of any that accepted the challenge, I asked for testimony of encounters with new friends from yesterday. As of the writing of this email, here are a few responses:
"I met 'Grant'. He was visiting from another church in Summerville." - Carrie Reeves
"yes! couple sitting in front of us, about our age introduced ourselves found out they are new in our area, enjoyed our church and will probably join soon, asked if they were involved in a small group Bible study, invited them to our class, gave them a SS book. said they would be there next Sunday." - Christine Van Tassel
"I met a Michaela in the bathroom!! Not new, but new to me!!!!" - Leslie Jones
We see here three different types of people you may meet when focusing on meeting a new person at church. Here is a list of six types of people you may meet during your worship gathering:
The Local Visitor: You may meet someone who is attending our church that is visiting from another church. That person is experiencing everything about Old Fort Baptist Church through the lens of the experiences they have encountered at their previous place of worship. We should make them feel welcome and among brothers and sisters as we are all a part of the same body of Christ.
New To The Area: You may meet someone that is new to the area and is not familiar with how things "normally" go or are "supposed" to go. They are seeking immediate connection with the large group and will happily welcome the embrace of one of the regulars reaching out to them.
The Already Church Member: You may meet a fellow church member that you've never met before. There is no need to be embarrassed about reaching out to a member of the church as if they were not a member. In fact, the already member should be encouraged that a fellow member of their church is working hard to identify someone they have never met before to make a new connection!
The Out of Towner: Yesterday, I visited my previous church while being in town for a wedding. This person can be a little more elusive because they already know people within the congregation and may appear to navigate themselves through the worship time with the comfort and ease of a member. However, just as approaching The Already Church Member, The Out of Towner should happily welcome the introduction of a new friend as it will provide comfort that the previous church is still being intentional to notice and reach out to unfamiliar faces.
The Seeker: Sometimes a person enters a church to check out what all the fuss is about. If they are not a believer, we MUST show them the love of Christ and make them leave the fellowship longing for another taste of a Christ-like love that they have never experienced before. And if they are a new believer seeking to find community with other believers, welcome them to the body and help them connect in to where they belong...with other believers in Christ worshiping the King together!!
The Dangerously Intimidating Angry Visitor: Here is the visitor that prevents most people from reaching out to others in their church gathering. For some reason, we often fear meeting someone new, imagining that we will be insulting someone for having the audacity to approach them and try to start a conversation with them...forgetting that it was their decision to enter into the church meeting space to begin with. If someone is in your fellowship space, it is completely ok to chat with them!!!
I am super excited to hear testimony of my brothers and sisters in Christ reaching out to those around them in our time of worship. Remember, not everyone participating in the worship gathering is plugged in to a small group affiliated with the church they are attending. I encourage the leaders within my church to enter worship with the mindset that if you see someone in the congregation that you do not know, keep in mind that they are already here on a Sunday morning and interested in learning more about Jesus with a group of people!! How much more of a perfect fit into our Sunday School classes could there be?!
Are there any other worship attenders that you have encountered that I did not mention here? I would love to hear from you!