If you don’t know them, greet them

During my sabbatical last year, when I was in town on Sundays, I visited different churches in the Houston area. Visiting different churches gave me a good opportunity to learn how visitors to our church might feel.

Some churches plant greeters in the parking areas, kindly directing newcomers like me to the right buildings. Others have greeters inside the sanctuary. Some posted big maps that made it easy for us to find our way. Others didn’t, and we had a hard time figuring out where to go.

The main purpose of house churches is to reach non-believers and make them disciples of Jesus. We must make every effort to make a good impression on visitors. How can we make them feel welcomed?

First, we must pay attention to our attitude toward strangers. Americans say “I love you” to strangers too easily, to the point where the words become insincere, in my opinion. But I have found that even when it’s insincere, when people said things like this at the churches we visited, it made me feel more welcome. I won’t ask you to say “I love you” to every stranger, since we Asians are more reserved in expressing our feeling than Americans. But we should at least say “hello” or shake hands with people who visit our church.

Also, when strangers ask for directions, personally escort them to their destination instead of pointing in the general direction.

Some house church members like to worship and eat together with their fellow house church members, and they reserve seats for each other in the sanctuary and fellowship hall. If others take their reserved seats, they ask those people to move. But people who come to our church for the first time may feel unwelcome and hurt if they are asked to move. Unless you are sure that they are regular church members, do not ask them to move; instead, invite them to join you and your house church members.

House church members who only attend house church meetings occasionally come to church to serve in the church kitchen when it’s their house church’s turn to serve. Some of them don’t come to church again because some of the kitchen staff treat them just like regular church members. If you happen to work with people you don’t know in the kitchen, assume that they’re visiting non-believers and treat them with extra care and politeness.

Non-believing Korean-Americans usually have negative opinions of Christians. It is our responsibility to show them that their negative impressions are groundless, and reflect our true self, because they are dear and important to our Lord, who desires that no one perish and that everyone be saved.

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