Preparing for a New Member – part 3

babyWhen I began this series I likened the welcoming of a newborn child into a family, similar to the welcoming of a guest to our church. There are three phases of welcoming a guest into our church family: preparation, process and product. The preparation has to do with what we as a church family can do to prepare to welcome a guest.

The process identifies what we as a church family can do to move a first-time guest into a second time attendee and further along into Bethel life and culture. Do you remember what it was like when you first attended Bethel? Which door do you enter the building? The hallways seem to go on forever. Will I be able to find the restroom for my four year old? I sure hope they have something for my children. I wonder if I’ll know the songs they sing? On and on the list could go, but once a family gets past the hurdle of actually attending church, then there are hundreds of other hurdles that need to be torn down for a guest family. We can break the process down to three parts: pre-service, service and post-service. Begin by asking yourself the following questions…

Pre-Service.

  • Is there a family here that I don’t know?
  • What can I do to relieve their apprehension about being in church?
  • Do they have children and need direction to classrooms?
  • Do they know where the restrooms are?
  • Do they have a bulletin yet?
  • Do they our pastor’s name?
  • Do they have someone to sit with?
  • Maybe, even give them an idea as to what Pastor Campbell has been preaching on?

Service.

  • Sing whole-heartedly. Enjoy the music.
  • Follow along in your Bible. This communicates that this is what a regular attendee does: opens his Bible and follows along.
  • Say “Amen” to the preaching. A guest needs to know that there are people who agree with what the pastor is saying.
  • Keep distractions to a minimum in your area. Don’t whisper, but actively engage in the preaching.
  • Pray that God would use Pastor’s message and your friendship to help this guest take the next step in their relationship with Jesus Christ.
  • When God works in your heart, respond to the preaching.

Post-Service.

  • Thank them for coming.
  • Ask them what they thought of the message.
  • Was there anything that was said or done that didn’t make sense?
  • Offer to help them find their child’s classroom.
  • If they have children, explain about our AWANA program on Wednesday.
  • If they have teenagers, talk to them about the youth group.
  • Ask them to come back next Sunday and join you again.
  • Ask them if they filled out a guest registration card.
  • Invite them over for lunch or out to lunch?

It takes work to see a first time guest take the steps from guest – outside observer – involved ownership within a local church, but it is well worth it. It takes stepping out of our comfort zone to be involved in other’s lives, but the process is well worth the product!

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