Saturday, June 02, 2007

Advice to churches: 'Anyone new feels alone and stupid!'

Interviewer: In your visits to churches, how important were first impressions, say during the first 5 minutes of arriving? If the first impression was negative, did you sometimes find the overall experience overcame that?

Jim: VERY important- if ANYONE approached us (without it being their job) it was the exception rather than the rule. It hardly ever happened but when it did we NOTICED. Frankly the lack of that failed to change much else for us since we adapted to the environment and simply stopped expecting spontaneous, unsolicited, non-directed greetings. Here’s how people feel whenever they enter a new experience—alone and stupid. Churches need to “attack” those feelings by training Christians (the non-professional and non-highly motivated kinds) to simply say “hi” to someone who they have not noticed before. That one small action would do more to increase church attendance than any other single action currently being tried.

H/T Benjamin.

Pic is by Elektracute on Flickr


Benjamin Ady said...

Hey--aren't you supposed to *link* the hat tip? as in H/T Benjamin?


Justin said...

My humblest...


Martin Kemp said...

I think the last line is right. Church attedance would go up. I seem to remember Barnies having this kind of experience when they changed their welcoming policy.
Note: This is one of the things Hillsong do best. Lots to learn there.

Jenny said...

So true.
I think that our church does a great job of welcoming new faces...but then I go to the best church in Australia. (I'm sure that will raise some hackles).

Justin said...

Jenny, I guess just some quiet hackles then!!

I'm glad you love your community.


Anonymous said...

I broke put of my comfort zone and said hi to a guy i never met b4 2 weeks ago at church. Turns out he is a new Christian, been coming for most of this year. On talking, I discover he was in a Cape Town gang from the age of 16-24. As a result:

He had been in jail for stealing a motor bike

Had been in jail as an accomplise to murder

Sold drugs

Been in a 6 man crew that did cash heists (armoured cars)

Did 1 year (out of a possible 42!) in the baddest jail in the Western Cape. (lots of stories there)

And then when he got out became a drug user, hit rock bottom, went to see his mum and became a Christian.

He is new in a young adults small group and at the age of 25 is getting it together.

It taught me many things - at least one is that it's worth getting to know peoples stories.

scott t