The 1967 movie, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner with Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier, and Katharine Hepburn is still a very powerful movie over 50 years after it was released. The remake, Guess Who with Ashton Kutcher and Bernie Mac in 2005 is also a good movie. Beyond the main point of a young person surprising their parents by bringing home a fiancé of a different race, there is the message of how uncomfortable it is to have someone unexpected and different from us show up at our home.
Will that happen this Easter at your church?
Are you expecting to see new people visit your church this Easter? Easter is one of the highest attended worship services all year in most of our churches. We tend to see all our regular members, plus some of their families, plus some of those members who only attend a few times a year, plus a few members we have not seen in a long time—and usually somewhere in that crowd is a person, couple, or family who is attending their first service at our church (maybe their first service ever!).
What happens when you know someone is coming to your home for the first time? Most of us will do some extra cleaning, make sure they know how to get there, let them sit in the good chair and ensure they feel welcome. How about at your church? Are you expecting someone new this Easter? Here is a quick list just to get you thinking, not complete, but a good start:
- Are the Easter service times correct on your website, outside sign, and everywhere else?
- Will the new family know where to park and where to enter your building? Do you have signs and/or people positioned to greet everyone and give directions if needed?
- Are the nursery and children’s ministry areas staffed, cleaned, and ready?
- Have you asked some of the regulars who normally sit in the back and on the aisle to move forward so new people can feel more welcome by sitting in the back?
- Does the Easter bulletin contain any “insider” words or language? (look for any abbreviations, words and phrases only a member would know, “church words” like narthex, etc.)
- Look carefully at each part of your Easter worship service. How will someone new feel welcome and included? Are there elements where you are just assuming that everyone knows what to say or do? Each church tends to become a family over time this is great! Will a new person on Easter feel like they are walking in on someone else’s family reunion?
Coming together with other believers to worship a risen Christ is an important spiritual discipline for all of us. Over sixty percent of the people who live within our conference area are not active in a religious congregation or community today. (This percentage grows every year.) Some of these people will be moved by God’s Spirit to attend a church this Easter. One of them is coming to your church. Are you ready? Say a prayer today for them. Help them feel welcome when they come home.