The woman came out of the service having a forlorn demeanor about her. Her head was down, shoulders slumped, and there was a tissue in her hand. She just looked discouraged or depressed. I only felt it right to engage her to see how she was doing. I asked if she was ok, to which her reply was…”I’m worried about a surgery I have this week”. The lady went on to explain how she has been in pain for a while and that the surgery should help alleviate that, but she was still nervous about the procedure. I tried to encourage her some and let her know that I’d be praying for her. She thank me and walked out. The next week I saw her again, let her know I had prayed for her surgery and asked how it went. Her face lit up, told me how successful the surgery was then informed me how much our conversation and my words repeated in her head throughout the week. Before walking into service, she smiled at me and said, “I was looking forward to coming back this week because I know I’d see you and that you had been praying for me.”
I’d love to say the above story was from my life, but it’s not. I learned of this interaction from a volunteer leader at our church. It was an interaction he had had within the last month and would have known nothing about it had he not told me. But that was the exciting part for me – even if I didn’t hear about it, the volunteers of our church were making others feel welcomed and wanted. This leader embodied what we desire as a church to be to each and every person who walks onto our properties at any time – to know they are welcomed and wanted. In other words, we want to be a church known for its intentional friendliness.
This is exactly why my heart rejoiced earlier this week when this volunteer recalled this story to me. Being friendly is something any individual can be, but cultivating a culture of friendliness requires a community of people. And as a church grows it can change the culture and quickly you could go from exhibiting friendliness to simply being friends with those you already know. That is not friendliness – that is a clique and it has the opposite effect of friendliness. So the question for you (church leader and attender) is “Would Your Church Get an “F”? for friendly? That is the challenge of James Emery White’s article.
As a church leader, and the pastor responsible for our First Impressions volunteer team, this question and the lens of friendliness is constantly on my mind. Every weekend at church I walk in and know many people I see, but I have to intentionally remind myself there is someone here this weekend for the first time who may know nobody. I ask myself, “How do they feel”? My hope is that they would feel welcomed and wanted. And thanks to the volunteer I mentioned above and countless others at our church I am reminded that even if I’m not friends with everyone at church, all of us are working together to create a culture of friendliness so people can meet the greatest friend they may not yet know they need and have in Jesus.
What do you think about friendliness? Should it be something we strive for as churches? Individiuals? Why or why not? How have you experienced it? How do you seek to be friendly to others? I’d love to hear your experiences and thoughts. So leave me a comment below and as always be with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s day.
Until Next Time…