The people at Kensington Church get it. Church shouldn’t be creepy. It shouldn’t be a place where the unchurched crowd’s worst fears come true: I’ll be stared at. I’ll be judged. No one will talk to me. Everyone will talk to me.
Church should be a place where we remember what it’s like to be new, and adjust our services and systems and personal preferences to accommodate those who will be new this weekend. That often means re-tooling our brains and remembering that what works for people who have been in church all their lives just doesn’t work for newcomers. Ever.
Maybe it’s the hand-shaking time at the beginning of your service, where friends talk to friends but your guests are only spoken to by paid staff who feel sorry for them. Perhaps it’s your sermon that speaks in deep theological terms that are never explained. (Hint: your life-long attendees probably don’t understand those terms either.) Maybe it’s your follow up process. Seriously: do you really think people want you showing up unannounced at their house at 7:00 on Monday night?
Our churches shouldn’t have the persona of a socially awkward, gangly high schooler who is trying to get a girl to go out with him. Nor should we be a Christian Amway convention (something our church has been called before), full of annoyingly happy gauntlets of people who will smile you to death before you get out of your car.
You have to figure this one out. You have to decide how much is too much when it comes to greeting your guests and making them feel cared for. You have to discover the cultural code of your surrounding community: what works? What doesn’t? And what’s more, you have to figure out the code of the individual guest: what’s the cap on their comfort level? How can you ensure their second visit by honoring their space on their first visit?
Leave the creep factor to lovesick high school boys. Don’t be a creepy church.