Worship is a weekly time when God’s people gather together to celebrate Jesus. I look forward to these pivotal times of worship every week. Oftentimes, people debate as to whether worship should be geared towards members or guests. In reality, the main audience in worship should be none other than Jesus. We gather to honor Him – not expect Him to bless us.
With that distinction in mind, as church members, we must always be cognizant of the fact that God has first-time guests in our worship services every week.
Some will have their lives changed by the gospel, some will join our church, some will give us another shot, and some will leave and never return again.
While we cannot force anyone to stay, are there practices that help guests feel more welcome? Without a doubt! Here are some simple principles that can help you exhibit worship hospitality.
Worship Hospitality Practices
- Be pleasant to everyone. You don’t know who is a member or a guest, but both groups would appreciate kindness. Smile, welcome, and show the type of joy that Christ brings. Let them see our love for one another as distinct (John 13:34-35).
- Speak to those nearby. I always am nervous about asking people if they are new only to find out they have been members for years. Don’t let that possibility hinder you from saying something. Just think through what you are going to say. “Hey, my name is Travis. I don’t think we have officially met yet. How long have you been coming to this church?” That allows someone to respond by indicating that it is the first time or the one-thousandth. You can’t talk to everyone, but please talk to someone.
- Create some seating space. As a tall person, I prefer to sit on an aisle where I can stretch out, but as an aware person, I should prioritize creating seating space for a possible guest over my personal comfort or preference. Don’t perch over special seating and deny people room. While we are blessed with further growth in worship attendance, we still do have seating available in all services if everyone will scoot in a bit. The last few weeks, we have continued to see significant growth and Easter is coming. Let’s get close and act like you like somebody. Try not to leave an empty chair or two all over the place. Make room for someone to have a life changed!
- Engage in the service. People around you are watching the way you pray, sing, give, and connect with the sermon. You have people around you that do not believe what you believe yet. Do they believe, by the level of your sincerity and activity, that you believe it?
- Refrain from causing distractions. Your speech and gestures can distract people from focusing. Acknowledge that the people around you need to hear the gospel – help ensure they have a clear signal without any interference.
- Beware of haphazard judgments. Someone might come into the service that is dressed differently than you. It might be obvious that they have different perspectives than you. They might even have a different lifestyle than you. If it is a minor preferential issue, disregard the opportunity to address it. If you think it is a major purity issue, withhold your comments. They aren’t going to have a life change if they are offended by disrespectful comments and walk out before they have a chance to hear from God. We will always be grateful when people who don’t have it all together come to worship with us. For even those of us walking with Jesus a long time still have plenty of room to grow. If you don’t know the person’s story, refrain from giving a review.
Let’s continue to celebrate what God is doing at our church and practice worship hospitality.
Make sure that you are doing everything within your power to make those around you feel at home.