Imagine your family is having an open house. Perhaps it’s for a child’s graduation or sixteenth birthday. You sent out invitations to the usual friends and family, but you also invited the people who live around you in your neighborhood. You may not really know them. Perhaps you’ve only smiled and waved as you’ve passed each other on an evening walk. But you thought it would be polite to invite them. After all, they have watched your kids grow up, have seen them ride their bikes in the neighborhood, and have had innumerable balls and toys land in their yard after a big hit or an errant throw.
Yet when the day arrives, and folks start to show up, something strange happens. While you and your friends and family are standing around the dining room table, chatting and grazing on the hors d’oeuvres, a neighbor walks in the door. No one says hello, or even acknowledges the presence of the visitor. The visitor enters, curiously looks around, sits on the sofa for a while, and, after several awkward minutes of looking at his shoe laces, slips out the door.
Of course that would never happen. When we have guests in our home, we make them feel welcome, wanted, and “at home.” Sadly, often in many Christian churches–yes, even SGCC at times–guests show up and are not welcomed. They feel like outsiders crashing someone else’s party.
So, while we see the silliness of opening our own home to visitors, and then not greeting them when they arrive, somehow we don’t make the connection to our church home. It’s easy to do. We are busy talking to our friends. Maybe we’re catching up and it’s the only time we get to see each other all week. And it’s easy to assume that someone else will greet the visitor. Maybe you’re not good at small talk, and it makes you feel uncomfortable. Yet, while these may be reasons, I don’t think they are excuses. We are commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves, and to do to others as we would have them do to us.
Pastor Greg recently shared with the staff a blog post called “What People Who Are New to Your Church Want You to Know.” You may have seen it in last week’s Connection. I think it’s a good reminder, so I wanted to pass it along again.