Every time I go on a road trip, I find myself making the same stop. It does not matter the direction I’m driving, I will usually pull over to walk into a Buc-ee’s convenience store. Of course, I’m not the only one making that stop. Many of you are making that stop with me because the stores are always packed. Thousands of people flood through their doors every day for their wide variety of goods, clean restrooms, and fresh coffee. While all those things are signature marks of the Buc-ee’s experience, I would contend one other thing stands out: their customer service. They have hands and feet everywhere, and I usually find myself loudly welcomed as I walk through the doors. There may be hundreds of people around me, but their staff is trained to acknowledge a guest and welcome them in.
Many churches could take cues from a convenience store. Church buildings can likewise feel crowded with lots of people quickly rushing in, and without trained intentionality people will undoubtedly be overlooked. It’s easy for people to get lost in the shuffle and never be greeted in a church. This happens in many places, but I’m thankful that our church family has always worked hard to exercise genuine hospitality. I watch it every weekend as I see strangers being greeted at the front doors. I watch families being walked down the hallways and introduced to the children’s areas. I watch staff and BFG leaders lovingly follow up during the week with guests who fill out visitor cards. I believe this this open-armed spirit honors the Lord as Paul instructs us, “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God” (Romans 15:7).
We are seeing more and more guests walk through our doors every Sunday. I’m so thankful that God is bringing new people into our church family, and if you are new, let me be the first to say, “welcome home.” But as our church grows, our need for hospitality will only increase as well. I encourage you to not walk into our building with blinders on this Sunday. Yes, we all naturally want to connect with our friends, family, and BFG class members. However, we must remind ourselves that there are people around us who likewise need a connection.
The truth is church can be a terrifying place for someone who is new. We forget this when we become established in a church body because it feels like home to us. We thankfully become comfortable, but we also sometimes forget that there are others who are uncomfortable around us. We can miss the people who are unfamiliar with the building and feel like they do not know anyone. Oftentimes these same people are also wondering, “will I fit in here?” Sometimes, they feel overwhelmed and don’t even know where to start on making a connection. This is why it has to start with us as the church. We must have our heads on a swivel every Sunday, mindful of those that God has placed around us.
Ask yourself how many new people did you meet last Sunday? If the answer is zero, I would contend that is a problem. Even if it was just a couple people, I would still say that you are missing out on an opportunity that God has given you. God places new people around us every weekend, and we must be on mission to welcome them for the glory of God. Look for someone you do not know and take the time to introduce yourself. Encourage someone to join you in your BFG. Invite someone to sit with you in worship. Ask someone how their week was and demonstrate genuine care for their life. God has blessed us with new people, so we must be faithful to steward that blessing well.
May we continue to “be kind to one another and tenderhearted” just as Christ has been kind and tenderhearted to us (cf. Ephesians 4:32). I look forward to welcoming you, and others, in worship this weekend. Invite someone to come with you, and invest into what God is doing at this city on a hill.
Onward and upward,