I have never attended a congregation who gets more "drop ins" than here. Last night's midweek service, at which we had 223, included three non-Christians who were here either by invitation or on their own initiative. Sundays always means even more individuals and families who have come in from the community. What a golden opportunity this gives us as a church!
Last month, while attending "Affirming the Faith" in Oklahoma City, I heard Mark Taylor, preacher for the Memorial Road congregation, talking about what they have done to be more effective with "outsiders" who attend their services. This would include all who are not members of that congregation--Christian from in or out of the area and especially non-Christians "seeking" a church home. His thesis question was, "How do we view these individuals? Are they 'visitors' or 'guests'?" He then demonstrated the difference.
He says a guest is someone for whom we have prepared. We clean our house, cook a delicious meal, and light a candle for guests. We plan for them. We want them there and we invite them back again. A visitor may drop by unannounced or unexpectedly. We may feel inconvenienced by a visitor. Your treatment of them may reflect that annoyance or apathy.
We never want to have another "visitor" again! That means we must treat all those who come in among us as guests! Such is proven by the steps we take toward them. It may not be easy to reach a "guest" sitting across the auditorium, but what about in our "section"? Is there an unfamiliar face? Greet them! Help them find a classroom. Take them on a tour. Invite them to lunch. Get the attendance card they filled out and drive to their home and tell them you were glad they were there. Every "guest" has a never-dying soul. Each of us is being handed an opportunity with eternal implications!
Will you pledge, with me, to seek out and honor every "guest"? Sunday is our next opportunity. Let us make the most of it (Col. 4:5)!