So the other day I was killing time literally waiting for paint to dry. Pastor Scott and I walked into a store where a half dozen or so employees were 'working'. After looking around and being ignored for 10 minutes or so one of the employees walked across the showroom and turned the lights off. Figuring it was time to leave Scott and I headed for the door. I guy behind a counter mumbled something as I walked by. I assumed that he was speaking to someone else so I continued to leave. He raised his voice, "I SAID, 'Is there something specific you were looking for?"
My response, "Not in the dark".
Defensively he informed me that they had always closed at 3 PM on Saturdays and always would (never mind it was only 2:55). What happened next floored me. He grilled me about what time I got off of work and if I wanted to go home when I was done. I was almost speechless. He finally ended his tirade with, "Y'all come back now ya' hear."
I wasn't going to lie, "That's not going to happen." And we left.
The point of my story... sadly my experience is what many people encounter when they visit a church for the first time. They don't know the rules, they don't know the format, they don't know the facility and they are just left to fend for themselves. The only time anyone pays them any attention is when they single out visitors during the service (which most people hate) or they do something wrong and everyone let's them know.
What a tragedy! Customer service in a business is one thing but in the church we are talking about people's eternity. We ought to do everything in our power (and His) to make guests feel like they are welcome and wanted. I am convinced that 1st time guests are the most important people at a service in any given week. Imagine what they had to overcome just to get there. You know that the devil has done everything possible to make it impossible. Their forever is at stake. We can't sit idly by in our little holy huddles, ignoring people like they don't matter, watching the clock so we can beat the Baptists to the buffet (love my baptist brothers).
"Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it." - Hebrews 13:2
FYI we go home when the job is done!