Making Sunday Mornings Uncomfortable
I admittedly stole the title for this article from a wonderful online article I read a few weeks ago from Rebecca McLaughlin, author of the book Confronting Christianity: 12 Hard Questions for the World’s Largest Religion. In the article McLaughlin lays out what she calls “three rules of engagement” at church which will likely make our Sunday mornings less comfortable but more rewarding.
Do you desire to be part of a church that makes first-time visitors feel welcome and at home? What about for our church members who are single or perhaps naturally introverted and who feel uncomfortable during the social fellowship times before and after services? I challenge you to shift your mindset on Sunday mornings and to sacrifice your own personal comfort for their good. These three rules of engagement from Rebecca McLaughlin can help us immensely toward that end.
1. An Alone Person in Our Gathering Is an Emergency
I couldn’t put it any better than she did in her article…
In times of crisis, we do strange things. We interrupt conversations. We set aside social conventions. If someone collapsed in your church building, everyone would mobilize. But every week, people walk into our gatherings for the first time and get effectively ignored. They may not know Jesus, or they may have spent years wandering from him. Their spiritual health is on the line, and a simple conversation could be the IV fluid God uses to prepare them for life-saving surgery. Eternal lives are at stake.
2. Friends Can Wait
And family too. While I put a great deal of value on the fellowship that we have with our brothers and sisters in Christ before and after the worship gathering on Sundays, a lonely visitor is a more pressing and time-sensitive need. It takes a great deal of courage for someone to enter a church building full of people they do not know. Especially if that person has not grown up in a church environment. Especially if that person is a natural introvert who feels awkward in social fellowship settings. Let’s be willing to sacrifice our comfortable conversations with friends and family to reach out to someone we don’t know and help them to feel welcomed.
3. Introduce Newcomers to Someone Else
This one was revolutionary to me. Think of the couple visiting a church for the first time who are greeted by the especially extroverted elder, but then no one else. While that elder may have done a very commendable job extending a welcome to that couple, they go away with only one connection to the body of Christ. On the other hand, introducing that couple to three others creates multiple sticking points which increases the likelihood that they will feel comfortable during a return visit. Now, when they walk in for their second visit, there are four people they can look for instead of just one. That greatly increases the chances they will feel comfortable enough to return!