Vol. 5, No. 4
~ Page 8 ~
[Christian Bible Teacher, Vol. 44, No. 7, July 2000, page 161]
You know, my wife serves food that'll melt in your mouth…I sure wish she'd thaw it first. Congregations get that way -- the need to "thaw out."
I, honestly, do not believe that a congregation of the Lord's People intentionally puts forth a "coldness." I believe that this malady (a cold congregation) is simply a case of humanity. If we (humans) are not careful we "end up" being busy, about serious and important things, while, at the same time, overlooking other things.
On Sunday morning, at the church building, preachers and teachers are getting their "tools of the trade" all together for class. Other saints are enjoying the fellowship with other saints whom they have missed during the week. Men are "checking and making sure" that those who have been selected to "wait on the table," lead singing, have opening and closing prayers, are all there.
Thus, visitors, guests, are sometimes overlooked. Not intentional, but still it occurs. What to do? Well, first of all, we can:
Assign Faithful Families to be the Spotters
The reason for using the phrase "Faithful Families" is simply because they would know who are members and who are guests. Nothing is more detrimental to "congregation warmth" than for a member of the same congregation to ask another member if they are a visitor! (I was standing "off to one side" when I heard such a confrontation; it produced a "tense" situation!)
Then, there is this:
Most congregations have someone who makes the morning "announcements." The "order of worship" will be stated. The announcing of the sick will be done; and other pertinent news will be stated. Why not have the ones (who do the "announcements") make it known that there are visitors and guests in the audience? After all, the "Spotters" will have already relayed that information (or, at least should have) to the one who would be making the announcements. This will let the visitors and guests know that their attendance was noted, and, at the same time, would "alert" other members that they should be cognizant of visitors and guests in their presence. Thus, they, too, can welcome the visitors and guests.
Brethren, there is no reason on earth why visitors and guests should leave a congregation of the Lord's People without at least one child of God noticing their attendance. Not one!
But! I heard someone say, "Our congregation is so big, we just can't meet everyone!" Well, this "doesn't wash," because if the congregation is "so big," then they would have more than enough people to work in this particular "arena" of the Lord's church! Size is not a factor! It's an excuse!
We, as Christians, are going to be blessed (at one time or the other) with visitors and guests. What they "feel" when they walk out of our worship is our responsibility! I, in 25 years of preaching, have never heard a member (or guest) refer to a congregation as "so-so" in the area that this article is dealing with. They have said "It was a cold congregation." Or, they have said "It was the warmest church I've ever attended." There has never been a "middle ground" statement; it's either been "No one spoke to me!" Or, "Everyone was so polite!"
Dear brethren, "Congregational Temperature" is a very important part of the Lord's work. It is often one of the lasting impressions visitors retain, even months after their attendance.
Let's make sure that we don't "lose" any good prospects for future conversions because of a "malady" that just doesn't need to exist -- a "cold" congregation.