While we must be concerned with doing what we do in worship according to Christ’s expressed will, we must also be sure to reflect His love to strangers, newcomers, outsiders, and otherwise unfamiliar faces. To improve upon our friendliness, we should consider the following principles:
We must stop expecting that others will represent us in friendliness. Maybe we look at those few members of the congregation that “go after” our visitors and conclude that they are covering the bases for the rest of us. They cannot reach everybody, but even if they can their friendliness does not let us off the hook. Dear reader, the chances are great that I am challenging you!
We must not use our introverted nature as an excuse. Introverts may mistakenly conclude that extroverts are merely doing what comes natural to them. As a representative of the extrovert clan, may I suggest that connecting with visitors requires effort. Everyone must make an effort!
We must avoid the thinking that the visitor bears responsibility to be friendly. We’re the hosts and they’re the guests. It’s hard to come into an unfamiliar place where you know no one and reach out to them. This is our “home turf,” and we must always take the initiative!
We must practice the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12). Again, put yourself in their shoes. Treat them how you’d want to be treated if in their place.
We must see ourselves as direct representatives of Jesus. Second Corinthians 5:20 calls us just that. Treat visitors exactly like Jesus would. Seek them out and do everything within your power to let them know how glad you are they are here.
We must understand the eternal implications of being friendly to visitors. Wouldn’t it be awful if we contributed to someone being discouraged, even to the point of walking away from Christ? We cannot minimize the eternal impact, for good or ill, we make by how we do in this matter.
We must break out of our ruts and routines. What creatures of comfort we are! We must get uncomfortable and change our current habits. Avoiding eye contact, walking past unfamiliar faces, withdrawing into ourselves, talking only to those who talk to us or those we feel comfortable with may be the niche we’ve carved for ourselves over a long period of time. Confront those well-established patterns and insist on breaking them.