Sometimes organizations make changes, including churches, which might cause some people to wonder, “Do I matter as much as the next person?” The answer is obviously…Absolutely! But perhaps a further explanation is warranted to put everything in perspective. Many of you will have noticed that recently here at Hope I am consciously trying to make myself more available to visitors after the services. I have given up my long-loved position at the main exit door to hang around our “Connection Corner” so I can have more focused conversations with our visitors. What that has meant is that I have missed out on the privilege of greeting many of you each week.
Some might think that this indicates that visitors are more important than those who worship at Hope regularly. Again I say the answer is absolutely not. But I will say in that moment there is a clear bias toward our guests for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, we don’t have any knowledge of their spiritual state or eternal destiny, and those few brief moments might be our only opportunity on a personal level to interact with them about the Gospel. Second, research is telling us that connecting with guests quickly and personally is a major factor in determining whether they will visit your church again. So, since the immediate post-service time is a limited open-door moment, for the sake of the Kingdom, we want to maximize it by focusing on our guests.
I want you to know this hasn’t been easy for me because I love connecting with everyone. But I do take some consolation in the fact that even Jesus faced the pressure to focus on new folks even those others were waiting on Him. In Mark 1, toward the end of the chapter, Jesus had had a busy day of healing and teaching in Capernaum, had rested overnight, and before dawn a new line had formed waiting for Him. But He told His disciples it was time to move on, leaving the folks in Capernaum disappointed, because there were new villages that He needed to minister in.
So I ask for a couple of things from you in this effort. First, I ask for your understanding. The effort truly lies in our passion to not see any perish. Second, just give me a minute. Visitors are often among the first to leave, so just wait a few minutes in the lobby, visit with some folks, and then talk to me. I always love hearing your comments, answering questions, or hearing the latest good joke.
See you Sunday for a thanksgiving focused service.