Hurdles

Hurdles

When I was growing up, going out for track meant being tested in all events and competing in the areas of least incompetence. So, despite being “solidly” built and somewhat uncoordinated, I still had to run the hurdles. I had to run right alongside the kid whose legs started just below his armpits. It was hard to get up out of the dust and challenge another towering obstacle while others were floating across the finish line.

Getting into church should not look like a series of hurdles. No one among us would want it to be. Hear me loud and clear … CBC regularly gets praised as a friendly and welcoming church. But can I tell you a secret gained from 20 years of ministry? The same church can get high and low scores on its welcome depending on who you talk to. Much like your experience with physical activities … your experience of a new church can be somewhat tied to natural competencies. It’s not universally true, but people who score higher on the extravert level tend to report churches being friendly. You might say, they see what they are.
 

In a national survey on church attendance, first-time guests revealed obstacles they experienced to feeling welcome. Here are three worth examining:

  • People took all the aisle seats making it hard/awkward to get to a seat
  • People were gathered in cliques talking and laughing … we felt ignored
  • People covered seats around them with their stuff … signaling we weren’t welcomed to sit by them
 

 These could be hurdles for any guest … but especially for one who already feels vulnerable or shy. How could we help?

  • If you need an isles seat, please feel free to take one. But watch for the guest – stand, smile, shake a hand motion to the seats beside you.
  • Please enjoy your friends … that’s part of what makes Sunday morning great. But keep an eye out for the new person … the new potential friend.
  • Become more Panamanian in your personal space requirement :). Place your items on the floor beneath your seat.
 

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:4