“Turn around and shake someone’s hand.”
“We’re glad you are here.”
Each of these are phrases anyone would hear on a typical Sunday at AnyChurch, USA.
At one particular church I visited recently, I heard these typical greetings but then I also heard something distinctly different.
During each service, the pastor greeted everyone and welcomed them to the church. He introduced himself and his role but then he went one step further. He told us we were “safe.”
He went on to explain that he was glad we were there and recognized it could be the first time some had ever walked through the door of a church. “And that means you probably have questions. So,” he continued, “let me explain what you can expect.”
This may not sound like a big deal but it’s truly an important distinction from the “norm.” For most of us in ministry, it’s easy to lose sight of what it means to know nothing about a church service, praise song or offering. If we desire to create a “safe” environment, it’s common to assume that we’ve not only succeeded but that it’s being communicated effectively and often.
The pastor’s approach brings to mind three important things that every ministry should remember and be intentional about:
The Sunday morning “welcome” happens each and every week and it is a huge opportunity to start a relationship on the right foot while reinforcing the core DNA of the church. Those few moments must be as intentional as every song sung and scripture read.