First up — for those following my weight loss, I’m doing GREAT! Eating a bit and making it through the days. All is well and wonderful. I’ll do a weight loss surgery update later in the week.
Recently a friend of mine posted (on Facebook) how she wished church was more like a bluegrass festival. Her reasoning was wonderful — it’s open, friendly, welcoming and you’re all there for the same reason. Now certainly church can be all these things, but often it’s hard to find that on the first visit or two. It got me thinking….
When I was in my twenties I worked in restaurants and clubs. The last bar I worked in was a hotel bar and had a local pub flavor. By that I mean, we knew our customers and they knew us. It was a comfortable place. There was laughter, fun and friendship. We made time for each other — the staff and a handful of key customers. We were invested in each others lives. We cared. And we were an open group — always looking to add more to our circle of friends. When people walked in we did our best to get to know them and make them feel comfortable. We talked to them, listened to them and made sure to invite them back. Now, I know this was my job, but it was more than that — I like people and I like to get to know them. This group of co-workers and customers grew to be like a second family to me. But life goes on and I remarried and settled into an office job.
When I returned to church with a young family I was looking for that same camaraderie — I wanted to find people who would invite me in, talk to me, get to know me and invite me back. We found a wonderful church that welcomed us but it wasn’t the same as the bar. People all seem to be too busy to ask about us. They told us lots about the church and what it had to offer, but rarely did anyone take the time to just ask about us. It always felt as if they were so busy selling us on the idea of the church they forgot to get to know us. I know the intentions were true and we spent many years in that church — and loved raising our girls there. But this church isn’t unique, it’s normal.
I sat in church Sunday morning and I looked around for people I didn’t know, but I quickly got caught up in catching up with some friends. I forgot about reaching out. After all, we don’t have much time do we? There’s worship music and then the sermon and then there’s lunch. Now we do manage to squeeze in a welcome and fellowship — but it’s just a few minutes long.
I wonder what church would be like if it was more like a local pub of course without the bottles of wine and the Long Island Teas, although I will say a glass of wine might help some of us lighten up just a bit.
What if the church spent time before and after service just getting to know people?
What if we set aside time to just hang out and get to know one another? What if we did it smack dad in the middle of the service! Oh my!
What if we made it our business to invite them back?
I don’t know the answer, but I do know that people are leaving the church in droves.
I do know that I will make it my business to find the people who don’t know anyone and introduce myself and then ask all about them (not in that creepy, stalker way… at least, I hope not).
I do know that God can do amazing things through us — but somethings those things happen outside of our schedules and plans, let God be God.
I understand that being in church won’t save people, only God can do that. But I do know that people are hungry for friendship and fellowship.
Is the church meeting that need?