Here’s the deal: we, as parishioners, oftentimes sit in the same area in a church service. Visitors, who might still be visiting four weeks in, oftentimes sit in the same area in a church service as well. Whether I see you afterwards the church foyer, or the next week while sitting behind you again, I’ll probably remember you, because, to me, you’re one of the few representatives of this place. So, remember me. Write down my name on the inside of your Bible or in your cell phone. Build up this name-remembering muscle.
The list could continue on forever. If you’re an usher, don’t seat me in the front row. If I choose to keep my newborn or my children with me, because one of us isn’t comfortable in the children’s program, don’t glare at me if they act like children – Jesus loves the little children, just as much as you and me.
But here’s the bottom line: we really can be good neighbors to those who are visiting our churches for the first time. We can emulate the actions and compassion of Jesus who welcomed every sinner and saint into his midst. We can take note of the Good Samaritan who noticed the stranger, the one every other passerby ignored and walked right on past.
And maybe in doing this, we’ll prevent some new visitors from church shopping – because we’ll have appropriately welcomed them into Christ’s space.
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Cara Meredith is a writer and speaker from the San Francisco Bay Area. Her first book, The Color of Life: A Journey Toward Love and Racial Justice will release in February (Zondervan). You can connect with her through her website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.