Early this morning, I read an email from Barbara about some visitors to our church this past Sunday. They were worried they were sitting in someone’s seat. This reminded me of an experience I had in my mid-twenties.
I was a young man stationed at Ft. Knox, Kentucky. I decided to visit the United Methodist Church in Radcliff, which is the town next to Ft. Knox.
That Sunday morning, I put Lindsey in the nursery and walked into the sanctuary. As others walked in, I chose a pew close to the back. I sat down and the pews around me began to fill up. Even though everyone was talking to one another, no one spoke or greeted me. It was like I was on an island.
Just before the service started, a woman walked up, stood uncomfortably close to where I was seated, loudly announced that she was a member of the church, she always sat there, and I would have to find another seat. Everyone around stopped talking and looked at me. No one said a word. My impression was that this woman really enjoyed telling me to move. I did.
I got up, went straight to the nursery, picked up Lindsey, walked out of the church and went to worship at the chapel on Ft. Knox. I never went back to the Methodist Church in Radcliff.
So if you are a member of the FUMC Temple congregation, here are the four rules to follow when you see a visitor in our church.
1. Do not let them leave the sanctuary alive without first letting them know how glad you are they have chosen to worship with us.
2. If the visitors are sitting where you usually sit, refer to number one, then find another seat.
3. During the greeting at the beginning of the worship service, don’t spend time visiting with your friends, you see them all the time. Find the visitors and refer to number one.
4. At the end of the worship service, seek out the visitors and refer to number one.
Coming to a new church can be a very uncomfortable experience. Our job is to let these new faces know they are loved, valued, and wanted. It’s that simple.
In guiding his followers on how to treat others, Jesus said, “And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” (Luke 6:31) Those are good words to live by.
Prayer: Dear Gracious Heavenly God, help me to show love, compassion, and grace in all that I do. Let your light shine through me. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
As there is every Sunday, next week there will be visitors in the sanctuary. Refer to number one.
Also, just for the record, I am very stubborn and I probably wouldn’t have moved from my seat in the Radcliff church, but that woman was a lot bigger than I was and I wasn’t sure I could take her.
I pray your day is filled with joy and laughter.