Are we a “Friendly” Church?

How would you answer that question? How do
you think people who visit Hilldale might answer that question? I usually get a “yes” answer
to that question whenever I visit with people who have visited Hilldale. However, a few times
I have heard a recent visitor say “they attended a worship or Bible class service at Hilldale and only
one or two people spoke to them beyond the preacher.” That experience is not what I know to be
the “norm” at Hilldale! However, though unintentional, it’s likely most congregations allow some visitors to
“fall through the cracks” sometimes when we fail to greet them properly. Every Hilldale member has an
important role in making sure our visitors feel welcome! Consider these good thoughts:
What Do Friendly Churches Do?
1. Expect Visitors: Hundreds of friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors are invited each year to our worship services. Many
are invited on a regular basis. Think how foolish it would be for us to attend any church assembly without the thought in
mind that someone will be visiting. Let’s expect them, because they will be here. We have many visitors each week. Do we
expect them? Do we look for them? Do we try to speak with them and make them feel welcome?
2. Come early and stay late: If everyone arrived at two minutes ‘til and left immediately following the final “amen,” no one
would be around to visit with visitors. Plan to arrive a few minutes early to search out visitors; speak with them; make them
feel welcome. Also, plan to stay just a few minutes after services with the same purpose and actions in mind. Even 10 to 15
minutes of time spent on this before and after services will make a positive difference. Such is surely part of the “Royal Law”
of “Loving our neighbor as ourselves” (James 2:8).
3. Consider Visitors First: I heard a speaker once at a “Church Growth Seminar” say this: “One thing that every congregation
will deny is that ‘They’re not friendly.’” He went on to say: “We are friendly – with each other.” Don’t wait until you have
visited with everyone else before you search for visitors. If you do, the visitors will probably be gone. Give the first few
minutes before and after class or worship to find and welcome visitors.
4. Offer them Four Invitations: Invite them to your class or help them find a class. Invite them to sit with you during worship.
Invite them to lunch with you. And invite them to the next service. Just because they are here one time doesn’t mean our
invitations should stop!
5. This Means YOU: No one else can obey the royal law for you. We do not all have the same abilities or personalities, but all
of us can offer a kind word and a genuine welcome. Special thanks to everyone who tries to do just that! [adapted]