They were a young couple in their early-to-mid twenties. He carried the baby in an infant seat. The parents didn’t appear to be carrying Bibles. He looked semiprofessional. She had sandy brown hair; he had dark brown. I had never seen them before and was almost certain they were first-time visitors. They stepped hesitantly from the front lot to the church building.
I’m a greeter at my church, First Baptist Church, Ferndale, Washington. As I held the door for an elderly member, I watched the couple from the corner of my eye. I thought, They’ll need to be escorted to the nursery. Who can I seat them by who would make them feel comfortable? What other couples with young children can I introduce them to? I had better make sure Jeff Hathaway meets this family. (Jeff teaches a class for young married couples.)
Walking briskly too, I moved toward the front lot, thinking about what I should say to them. I couldn’t see which car they got in. Then I realized, They’re exiting the parking lot!
We do so much to get people to come to church through Awana, VBS, visitation, advertising, radio, personal invitations and mailings, tracts, special meetings and speakers, and so much more. Then a hundred feet from the door—a hundred feet! They were so close to church, possibly to salvation if they were unbelievers, possibly to growth in Christ, possibly to get training to help in their young marriage and parenting responsibilities.
Thoughts about that couple troubled me deeply. Those thoughts changed the way I think and act toward visitors and the way my church looks on Sunday morning. We made changes. . . .
(To find out how this church became more visitor-friendly, please read the upcoming February issue of the Baptist Bulletin.)