Heart & Mind - Dr. Lou Yock - March 2017
“Enter, Rejoice, and Come In” is one of our favorite, uplifting, and self-identifying hymns, and one that many of us can sing from heart. If we want a service that starts us off bouncing, this is one of the best hymns to choose. Its imperative tells us all, long-time comers and first-time visitors, to feel at home and accept the support and challenges we offer as a congregation.
However, I’d like to draw your attention to the fact that our church is kind of physically hard to enter and figure out. Our entry is around the corner, behind a cement square with a tree, sign, and post. And the door that everyone is naturally inclined to try to come in is locked, or blocked by a tree, which causes a little embarrassment for the first time visitor stumbling through a tree into a room full of staring eyes.
After entering through the correct door, there is a maze of narrow passages and doorways, oftentimes blocked with people chatting. If one is the slightest bit bashful, it can feel a bit like running a gauntlet to get oneself in the sanctuary of the sanctuary.
Which brings me to the point that, especially with newer and first-time visitors, we really have to go out of our way to be welcoming and accommodating. When toying with the idea of not having a greeter, there was a rightful and substantial objection to this idea. Now, we have an usher at the door to make the initial contact with people who may not be familiar with where to go and what to do.
And since we don’t want the usher or greeter to leave that important spot at the door, I ask members of the congregation to consider wearing a “Welcome! May I Help You?” button from time to time. The usher at the door or in the cloakroom will be able to direct visitors to you to make sure they can properly navigate our unique space. I would ask that you greet them, introduce yourself, offer to help them write a name tag, offer them the registry to sign, show them where the bathrooms are, and show them where we have coffee and snacks after the service. Then, if you would, help them get a hymnal, an order of service, and help them find a seat. After the service, it would be nice if you would sort of be their guide and give them someone to talk with. Of course, not everyone wants or desires a lot of attention, so I would encourage you to play it by ear to see how much attention they want.
The first impression we make is everything. Please consider wearing the “Welcome! May I Help You?” button to make sure our first impression is that of a warm and welcoming congregation, where we invite everyone to enter, rejoice, and come in.