different preaching styles, music styles, and overall worship atmosphere. But visiting is different than searching wholeheartedly for the one God wants to plant you in. The one that will grow your faith, your family’s faith, and give you plenty of opportunities to serve others.
I was a bit taken back. My what? I giggled a little inside, shaking my head.
As the pastor went on to speak, he touched on service within the church. He mentioned that 28% of Baptist churches are level or declining in membership, and that x percent of churches haven’t had a single new baptism. In my head I’m thinking, Well, no wonder. When we don’t welcome people as they are, why would we expect them to come back? Other churches are growing. New churches are being planted every day. Does it have to be a Baptist church, as long as it follows the Bible? I don’t think so; I’m pretty sure heaven isn’t segregated into sections by religion. Yet people walk into the church every week. Do we make them want to come back? Do we welcome the single mother, the pregnant teen, the woman whose jeans don’t fit properly, who may not have had a shower that morning, or whose purple bra straps are showing? (That may or may not have been me the Sunday before last. I’m just saying. My dress was clean and it fit, and my daughter thought it was pretty.)
And we will.
So can we be that church? Can we worry less about numbers and who came in with whom, and worry more about loving on, encouraging, and equipping each other through the next week? I think we can.
This post doesn’t just come with an observation, from an (unfortunately or not) experienced church hunter to you. It comes with a challenge. If you see someone next Sunday that you don’t know, say hi. Smile. Shake hands. Unless you have cooties, then don’t shake hands, just nod and wave. Better yet, don’t wait until Sunday. Be God’s church all week long… to the single woman. To the coworker. To the elderly lady next door. And last but not least, to the ones who live with you everyday. One smile at a time. Show kindness. Show love. Let’s be the church outside of the church, and inside of it. Ready? Let’s go.