“Aim at Your Guests and You’ll Hit the Congregation Every Time.”
“Aim at your guests and you’ll hit the congregation every time.”
It was likely a throwaway line by Daniel Simmons, one of our pastors, in a recent meeting. But that line has been lodged in my gray matter ever since.
My personal philosophy of serving guests is that we don’t have to choose between creating inviting environments for outsiders and boldly proclaiming the gospel. We can do both, and do both well.
But Daniel’s line – that we aim at our guests and hit our congregation – has teeth. If we expect that guests are with us, if we create space for them in our services, if we provide on-ramps for them to take a step, it can only serve our congregants as well.
- When we speak to our guests in the service, it’s a signal to the congregation that we expect unbelievers to be present in our worship. It’s a nod to the fact that our services are safe spaces for them to invite their non-Christian friends or family members.
- When we pause to explain our traditions or practices to the uninitiated, it refocuses our congregants on why we do those things, as well. It reinforces the meaning behind sacraments and celebrations.
- When we provide on-ramps like First-Time Guest Tents, Welcome Centers, or newcomers events, we help those who have been around for years but never taken a next step to … well … take a next step.
- When we put thought and effort into every element of the weekend – from kids’ programming to the layout of the service to the flow of the building – we are eliminating unnecessary distractions not only for our guests, but for our congregation.
So the next time you’re agonizing over what needs to be fixed at your church, and you feel the pull between reaching new guests and caring for your existing congregation, realize that the gap is not as great as you might think. Aim for those guests. You may just end up hitting everyone you need to.