On our vacation Mark and I visited a couple of churches. It’s always an interesting journey! There are good things to pick up on as well as observations about what makes a guest uncomfortable. Both of these things are so good to be reminded of!
One church that we attended had about 20 people in it. Although we have never had a service quite that small, we’ve had a few that have been in the ballpark over the last four years. I’ve gotta say…those services at North Creek are difficult for me! I thrive on the “crowd” as a leader. The more the merrier. Cram the in. Standing room only. Get out of the way of the coffee pot!…That’s just where my comfort level is. After all, if there are a ton of people it must be a good church, right? And if there isn’t…well, fill in the blanks…
However, being a guest in a small church was a totally different perspective. I really wasn’t concerned with the number of people in the room at all. In fact, I could not have cared less! What was most important to me was whether or not I felt comfortable in my surroundings. Was the lighting right? Was I informed about where to do and what to do? Was the speaker far enough a way that I wasn’t getting spit on, but close enough to not feel ridiculous in a small setting? Was the worship time pleasant and uninterrupted? Did I leave with something more than I came in with? Those were all of the “issues” that I was aware of. The fact that there were just a handful of other people was WAY at the bottom of my list.
That fact very much surprised me, but it was also a great comfort. We can’t control the number of people in the room, especially at a young church. Our numbers fluctuate more than the weather in the Northwest. Completely unpredictable. What we can control is how important and valuable people feel when they come in to our environment. People who are put in new situations really just want to FEEL at ease. Nothing more, nothing less.
Don’t get me wrong, I want every one of our services full of people! I love those Sundays when God’s house is standing room only. That will always be our goal. However, on the hot summer days of August when the wind seems to blow God’s people out to the lake, I will remember the lesson I learned at a little church in Montana…just make them feel comfortable, informed, and important!
And many blessings to that church that allowed us to come and be there guest!