I know what you are thinking!
“Beverly, what makes you think that I need to read a “how to” about church?”
I thought the same thing. It’s been going over in my mind about wanting to write on this subject and the only way I can get it off of my mind is to….just do it. I do pray about what I write about and many times I feel like I’m getting a nudge to write on a particular topic. This is one of those, so I hope you stick with me. Each Sunday morning in your inbox, you will find a little note from me on something that I hope will make your church going experience better. We may even talk about something you’ve never thought of before. I know, next question….
“Beverly, what makes you think you would have any knowledge of what my church experience should be?”
I understand why you would think that. Here is my resume of my “church life.”
As a young girl I maybe went to church with my grandparents a couple of times. I have no recollection of any of the teaching other than I did make my mom an ash tray out of clay for Mother’s Day and I made a really cute card for Easter with crushed egg shells on it with a picture of Jesus. I had no idea who Jesus was; I was just told to glue the picture on the card.
A few years later while in music class in the 4th grade we were all standing around the piano and the music teacher asked everyone if they had gone to church the past Sunday. When she got to me, I shook my head “no.” She then said shook her head in dismay and went to the next person. I remember feeling really embarrassed and ashamed. But, I soon forgot about it and carried on with life.
A few years later I listened to a preacher on television and I slipped into my room and knelt by my bed and asked Jesus into my life. I have written about my testimony a few times and if you are new to my blog, you can click here to read about how I began my walk with Christ.
My family joined a church and we were there for every service, conference and event. Over the years we served in so many different areas of the church and loved every minute of it. We grew in our walk with Christ and never looked back.
A few years later….I was married and my husband and I headed off to Seminary. He had felt a call on his life to preach the gospel full time. I had also surrendered my life to full time service as a teen. We left the only church I knew and headed out to change the world. My eyes were opened to the ways of different churches. We will talk about that later, but, for now and after being a member of and serving in several churches and now as we travel and visit many different churches, I’ve noticed a few things that I think would only make us stronger in our church life. I’m sure you have more questions, so feel free to email me or leave a comment. I always try to answer each one that I receive. You may be struggling in an area of your church life and I would love to visit with you about it. Some of you may have some things to share that have helped you in finding and serving in a church. I would love to hear about that, too.
Enough of my resume….let’s get started!
The first time I attended church as a teen with my mom and two brothers, we were amazed at the friendliness of this church. I had never had so many people tell me they were glad to see me. Me? I was hugged, had my hand shaken and people had a genuine interest in who I was. I had never seen so many smiles in my life! We were attending the church during a conference they were having and a singing ensemble was leading the music. They were young people from a Christian University. They smiled while they sang and acted as if they really loved being there. I never will forget the song they sang that has stuck in my head for now… 44 years.
“I found happiness, I found peace of mind, I found the joy of living perfect love sublime, I found real contentment happy living in accord, I found happiness all the time, wonderful peace of mind, since I met the Lord.”
I watched my mom at church. To me, she was the sweetest and friendliest person I had ever seen. She loved people and it showed. She was one of those that knew everyone and everyone knew her. She never ever said a bad thing about anyone when we were home. She worked all week and then visited bus kids all day on Saturday and then we attended church Sunday morning and Sunday evening. Recently we ran into a man who was a firefighter here in town. He recognized my mom as the lady that worked on the bus that he rode to church on. You could tell he had fond memories of her as she loved and cared for him and his two little sisters. Church became our life. And….we loved it!
When you attend church, try the following:
*Smile at people.
*Look at people in the eye.
*Shake hands like you mean it.
*Before you find your spot to sit, speak to as many people as you can. If you have to walk across the building to speak, do it.
*Don’t walk in, sit down, fold arms and stare straight ahead until the service begins.
*When you do find your spot, be aware of everyone sitting around you. Speak to them. Tell them you are glad they are there. Compliment something about them. If they don’t respond back, no worries, do your best to be kind and make them feel welcome. If you are in a large church, you may not know who the visitor is or who has been going there a hundred years, treat everyone the same.
*Change where you sit on a regular basis. Don’t stay in the same spot for years and wonder why you don’t know everyone at church. Get to know people on the other side of the building, too. Or the balcony.
*IF you are one of those that has “YOUR SPOT” and someone is sitting there when you arrive, DO NOT tell them they are in your pew or chair. Yes, I was told more than once that I was sitting in their spot and to please move. The first time, I thought it was a joke, until I realized it wasn’t. YES, there are rude people everywhere, even in church. If that happens to you, you smile and say, “I’m sorry” and move on.
*Make it a habit to invite someone to your home after church for lunch or dinner or maybe just dessert. Do you go out to eat? Then invite them to go with you. Ask the Lord to show you who you should ask, I have a feeling you will know right away.
*When you are sitting and someone walks up to talk to you, stand up. This is one that I’ve had to work on. If you are in a really friendly church, you might want to keep standing. Yes, I know that if you can’t stand, that isn’t a problem. Everyone understands. If you are healthy and can, stand to talk to whoever has taken their time to come and speak to you.
*When my kids were growing up, I taught them that when someone speaks to you, you speak back and continue the conversation I called it, bouncing the ball back. Don’t just take the ball and leave, carry on the conversation.
*Don’t get locked in on a deep serious conversation when there are hundreds or thousands of people around you. You may be shutting someone out that is nearby. Keep conversations light. If you are needing to solve the worlds problems, get together during the week or after church.
*Turn your cell phone off and put your phone away.
*Find someone that you want to get to know better or someone that you think needs encouragement and invite them to lunch that week. You may just make a new friend.
*If being friendly is not easy for you, work on it. Ask the Lord to help you be comfortable at being friendly. A smile is easy to do. Sometimes that is all people need.
*We have no idea what anyone has been through before they got to church. You be the one that reaches out and gives that first smile. No smile back? Then you just found you someone that you need to begin praying for and begin to reach out to them.
I will share this one little story with you.
A few years ago, we were in a church that my husband was the Minister of Education. He was always busy before and after church and had to sit on the platform during the service. I had taken my two children to their classes and went to sit down in the service. I must have been having an off day. I just needed a good morning or a smile. I sat down behind a middle aged couple that were there every time the doors opened. I reached up and patted the ladies arm and told them good morning. This particular lady barely turned her head and did one of those half smiles and turned back around. I took it personal. I was feeling very lonely, tired and inadequate as a pastor’s wife. Needless to say, the tears welled up in my eyes and I had to leave. I went to the ladies room, got myself together and went back in and sat on the other side of the building. I couldn’t wait for that service to get over and get home. Do you think that is the only time that has happened? Sadly, no. People are people everywhere you go. I just don’t want to be one of those kind of people. I’ll say it again, we do not know what someone is going through. We can’t risk being rude to anyone at anytime or anyplace.
Just be friendly…….smile…….care……..reach out!
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