Welcoming Guests

Matthew 25:31-40 (ESV)
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

In the great passage above, Jesus has returned as King and Judge. He states that the way that we treat others relates directly to the way we treat Him. When we have shown compassion to others, particularly the least, we have done the same act for Jesus. Notice in verse 35: “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”

It is important to do so for the following reasons:

  1. Dr. Nelson Searcy tells us that in the first seven minutes from the time a guest drives on the parking lot, he or she will decide to give the church another chance or not.
  2. Bishop Robert Schnase states that according to Edward Deming’s research what churches which are declining do is the reason they decline. Bishop Schnase states it is the same as if a church develops a plan that yields those results.
  3. In the average church, only one person out of twenty-three first-time guests return a second time.
  4. Our church like mainline denominational churches and others is suffering from a great decline as we saw the graph of church attendance since 1985 recently.

At Annual Conference, Bishop Schnase was the conference preacher and he shared the growth pattern for Methodist Churches. We hope that any given year that maybe ten families will move into town. Then, we hope perhaps some of them will see our building or bump into one of our members. Then, we hope maybe three families will come and hopefully two families will kind of stick with the church.

This actually used to work in a Christian culture, but today it doesn’t. We are starting with our hospitality and follow-up teams as we must increase the number who will return to one in four as a healthy rate. We will put in place a team of greeters, ushers, and parking lot attendants over the next few months to make a difference.

However, follow-up is then crucial to ultimately keeping them. The only way that we can effectively follow-up is by showing we care and to do that we have to have a prayer card. Here are the steps and we need everyone’s help if we are to make a difference.

  1. Everyone will receive a prayer card and fill it out. One side is the prayer card side which we emphasize as we want to help our guests and pray for them. When you fill it out, our guests are more likely to fill it out so we ask your help and when you do you are helping those don’t know the Lord come to faith in Him. Regulars and members have this secret that you can just fill in your name and status as a regular or member.
  2.  Everyone has a next step. There are options for next steps that you can take. Sometimes these are generic and sometimes related to the sermon but it is an opportunity to grow in Christ.
  3. Place the prayer card in the offering.

For the regulars, this helps us notice if someone may be sick for a time and missing to check on. For our guests, it’s the only way that we can show we care and help them grow spiritually as a part of our church.

Thank you for loving them and helping us as a church to minister to them.