“They’ll see you before you see them.”
That’s what a friend of mine said a few months back in a meeting we were both attending, and I’ve never forgotten it.
“We say that a smile goes a long way,” she continued, “but that works linearly as well. It goes a long way across the parking lot. If you wait until the last minute to perk up, they can see right through you.”
When someone shows up at our churches for the first time, they’re taking it all in. They’re looking for signage, for volunteers, for helpful direction, for subtle cues that we’re there to help.
They see it all.
Contrast that with us or our volunteer teams. We’re often absorbed in conversation or in crisis, and don’t necessarily have our eyes on the horizon. We tend to be inwardly-focused, looking at the old friend three feet in front of us, rather than thinking about the new friend thirty feet away.
So this weekend, make it a habit to look out. Rather than seeing what’s happening right around you, see who’s heading towards you. Make eye contact. Toss a smile across the parking lot. Engage with them before they have to approach you.
If you see them first, it might help your first impression to last.