I love the Church. I know and believe the local church is God’s plan. One of the analogies used to describe the church is household. A family is also another appropriate way to describe the church. And, as with any family, you (should) love your family even with its dose of crazy. Every family has its weird aunt, uncle, sibling, and share of its dad jokes. Growing up in the church might have also allowed me to have a weird unique perspective on stuff.
Every now and then, like we all do, we invite a friend home. And, we all know how invitations can come with anxiety. You know how you hope dad doesn’t try to act cool for your friends. Hopefully, your sibling doesn’t do something to embarrass you. You don’t want your cousin making your guests feel awkward. There are a few things I wish church people would stop doing.
It’s not that I don’t love my family; I do. It’s just that some things are not helpful for my friends when they visit. Is it OK, if we have a little family talk about some of the things I wish our family would stop doing?
One of the things I wish church people would stop doing is putting the spotlight(s) on my friends. You know when they visit for the first time and they’re singled out? My friends generally want to feel welcome but they don’t want to draw the attention. Some of my friends say they don’t want to go back to a church because that’s bound to happen.
I wish we wouldn’t ask friends to lift their hands, stand up or get interviewed. They’re here to check us out and it shouldn’t feel like the other way round. I know it’s weird, but my friends want you to notice them without noticing them, all at the same time.
Reminding Friends They’re Visiting
I know we want to be warm and inclusive… But, one of the other things I wish church people would stop doing may seem counterintuitive. The friends I bring home are already very conscious that they’re visiting my family. In the church news, announcements or sermons, please stop reminding them they’re guests.
Mom, it’s good to welcome and acknowledge guests, but please don’t smother them.
Not That Close (Yet)
Not everyone wants to a hug at the door. Not everyone wants a hug during the 30 seconds of greet time before you take your seat. I know you love my friends because they’re my friends, but aunt Mable, please go easy on the hugs. Sometimes a smile, a handshake or simple, “Hello” will do.
Not everyone comes from a huggy-touchy home.
My friends are happy to know there are connect / home / small / life groups. They’re glad to know that there’s space for them to “plug into the life of the church”. If they’d rather not get involved right now, it’s okay. I know you welcome them as a family, but that doesn’t mean they need to start doing ‘chores’.
Give them a little space just to be. As they get used to us, they will start rolling their sleeves. Please don’t chase them by making them feel guilty for not doing the dishes.
I know you want to, as you put it, “connect” with my friends, but they might not want to give you their details. Instead, it’s OK to give them yours and let them “connect” with you on their terms. Sometimes trust needs to be built before they feel comfortable enough to give you their phone number or email address.
Family, I’ve just been ranting on behalf of my friends. They’ve been telling me about some things didn’t like when they visited us. And, as result, these are some of the things I wish church people would stop doing.
- Do you think some of their rants are justified?
- Do you think I’m being too sensitive with the experience I want my friends to have vs. how we are as a family?
- What else do you think we need to change so they look forward to visiting with us again?
Even if you don’t sound off in the comments below, at least thing about these questions.
[Image via Unsplash]