When New People Meet the Unfriendly Church People???

church6When you first visit a different church it can be intimidating. It’s easy to assume that everyone around you has been there forever and they recognize you for the “newbie” that you are. Sometimes others may seem stand-off-ish and even unfriendly when actually they may be feeling a bit uncomfortable themselves. They may be what I call “unconnected people”. These are people who attend Sunday service but have not become part of the community of the church. Unfortunately they may represent the majority of the Sunday attendees. Many believe that all there is to Christianity is Sunday church attendance. Nothing could be further from the biblical truth. Christianity is community. We have a need to belong and be connected to one another. It is crucial that we bring an attitude of contribution rather than an expectation of entertainment.

When someone isn’t connected to the church family it is difficult for them to make others feel comfortable or welcome. Being distant will sooner or later foster resentment and criticism. After that it’s just a short trip out the door only to become the new person at another church and the cycle continues. The revolving door church has reached almost epidemic proportion in our culture and robs the church body of the vital spiritual life that God intended. Some of the most well intentioned people miss out on a deeper level of spiritual life because they have an independent spirit. Discontentment should be an opportunity for spiritual growth rather than relocation. Have you ever been discontent with your family? Do you make an all out effort to try an resolve issues and grow in understanding or just leave in hopes of finding another family?

          People fail to connect for a variety of reasons. First and foremost they feel that others haven’t made enough effort to bring them into the family. This is unfortunately true more often than we care to know. They feel somewhat outside the “click” and not totally welcome. Other times the reason is an elective one. “I just want to go to church (do my duty) and not get involved.”  Another reason is that some do not feel they have anything to offer. Because they haven’t been a Christian very long or they feel they don’t know enough, there is a false assumption that they have no value. If a person is truly saved and transformed by Jesus their testimony alone has great value and worth to others.

          Whether we are the new people or we have the opportunity to greet new people we need to understand some basic questions people have when they walk through the door. Do I fit here? Does anyone want to know me? Am I needed? What might be required of me if I join in? What advantage is there for me to belong? These are vital first impressions that need to be resolved before anyone feels comfortable enough to be connected. Connection is paramount to spiritual life. We are made to be in community and support each other through interaction. This is the lifeline of the church. The reason so many of our churches seem lifeless is due to the fact that so many “attendees” are not connected. Oswald Chambers wrote in his book “My Utmost for His Highest” (Oct. 27) the following: “Jesus did not say, ‘Go and save souls’ (the salvation of souls is the supernatural work of God), but He said ‘Go…make disciples of all the nations…'”.  (Matt.28:19) Discipleship begins with connection!

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