Recently I was meeting up with a few friends and they noticed the excitement in my voice about the church I had chosen to call home. Curious, they began to ask the usual questions. “What makes it so special?” “How big is your church?” “How do you get all of those things done?”
As our discussion ensued, I started to think on those things that make my place of worship so inviting and welcoming.
Throughout the years and after moving a couple times, landing your feet where you choose to call home, as in residence, if you’re a regular church-goer and used to the community it offers, you know the characteristics of what makes you feel like you’re in the right place.
Like most folks, we tried small churches, medium sized churches and even mega churches. And while it might sound a bit on the Goldilocks side of comparisons, the right fit for a growing family is highly important if you’re serious about growing spiritually as well.
When you examine what makes you feel ‘at home’ in a church, a deep appreciation for the involvement of the people begins to well up inside of you.
What good does it serve the Body of Christ if there are multitudes on the membership roster but no one within walking distance of the local church itself knowledgeable of its existence? How well is that body of Believers serving its community — especially the non-church goers?
By the same token, if all the seats in the sanctuary are full but the climate is anything but inviting and no one seems to look familiar — ever — from one week to the next or one event to the next — how engaged are its members on any level? Would anyone care?
There’s a lot of truth in the fact that church leadership is key to the lifeblood of its members. Genuine compassion and empathy for the people who occupy the seats in a worship center are tangible — even without words. Hospitality speaks to the heart of those who are seeking a place of worshipful community — they want more than just a Sunday sermon.
People want to be involved, recognized, empathized, have friends and feel at ease. Coming out of a long period of isolation, we all know what it feels like to live on a man-made island. One of the most endearing things you could do to make someone feel wanted is to remember their name. It melts the iceberg that keeps them feeling invisible. Let that sit with you for a moment.
The calling card of a local church is its people. The common denominator that draws people in should be the same for every local church, regardless of the denomination, giftedness, language or ethnic layers. The love of Jesus Christ should be the compelling reason people are excited to be part of your local church.
Kudos to you if you have a monthly lineup of renowned guest speakers, authors and acclaimed people of GOD. Applause to you if your music worship team consists of artists found on popular labels and they tour the globe. But if the people are disengaged or lack connection with one another, chances are there are lonely people in the crowded room.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 NIV
I can probably bet you have felt the uneasiness of being in a church that just felt so impersonal that you could hardly wait to exit after that closing prayer. Or perhaps you’ve forced yourself to ‘fit in’ only to later feel so isolated in the crowd that you ‘fell out’ of your love to even go to church. You’re not alone. And you’re not crazy.
Finding that perfect local church is not finding the perfect people. The local church is made of very imperfect people — leadership included. The key is finding the community of Believers that accepts one another in light of the individual imperfections, acknowledging that the only Perfect One is Jesus. He is the Light in which we embrace one another.
If you’re seeking and searching for that place of worship that feels like home, take heart and know that when you are seeking GOD and a place to serve Him and learn more about Him, He will whisper to you when it’s time to put down some roots. It won’t be awkward and you will feel like you should have been there all along. And perhaps being the love of Jesus will transform the way the observing world sees more of Him.
I love you to Heaven and Back, Girlfriend ~
LindaRJohnson, TitusTwo Visionary