Bite Your Tongue

I generally hate visiting a new church. Let’s face it, church people are a little weird. It seems like they fall into two general categories. They talk all about love and yet are some of the most unloving people you’d ever want to meet. Or they are so obnoxiously “loving” that it makes you want to vomit. Then you realize all of that “love” was just a bait and switch to get you to join the church or give or serve in the middle school ministry or…

But every once in awhile you come across a genuinely loving church. And every once in a great while you come across a church that really knows how to welcome guests well. It doesn’t happen often though because the truth of the matter is, we’re just not that good at it. It can be hard work talking to new people. With this in mind, here are few things you probably never want to say to a new guest at your church.

Oh, you used to attend that church!

No matter how you feel about “that” church, it’s probably not a good idea to speak disparagingly about a guest’s former church the first time you meet. You don’t need to be the self-appointed messenger to tell them that their former pastor is, in fact, a heretic. One of our goals in welcoming people is to speak winsomely in a way that reflects Jesus’ love. And by the way, we shouldn’t have a special “winsome guest” language that we switch on and off. We ought to strive to speak winsomely all the time.

Would you like to volunteer in our nursery?

I don’t care if they like kids, have a kid or are Mister Rogers reincarnate, don’t ask them to serve in the nursery! If you care about kids and you care about your guests, you won’t put either in the position of having new people serve in the nursery.

I’m sure there are countless other things not to say to a new guest. I’m sure you could come up with your own (which I’d love to hear, by the way). And I’m sure this isn’t a new idea. In fact, there’s a shadow of a thought in my head that I read an article on this somewhere before. Since I can’t seem to get ahold of that shadow of a thought to footnote said article, this acknowledgement will have to do.

Disclaimer: No, I do not believe in reincarnation. Yes, I know Mr. Rogers is dead (but his sweaters live on). I thought it was funny. In fact, funny can actually be winsome, try it sometime.

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