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I went to church yesterday. I know, no big deal, right?  It’s the south, we go to church.  It’s what we do.  But this week Will and I visited a church we’d never been to before.  We sort of just came in off the street.  Well, not really.  The church we visited was one of the two within a four mile radius of our house that had a 10:30 service.  So we ended up there.

Ya’ll, I grew up in the church.  I have the scars to prove it.  Many of my friends have been life long members of the same churches.  Cradle Christians, if you will.  But walking into a church with no connections, no friends, no connections.  Scary indeed.  I couldn’t help but think about what it must feel like to walk into the church I’ve called home for more than 15 years.  I’m guessing it feels pretty scary.

That said, the church we visited was probably the most friendly, welcoming church I’ve ever attended.  No, really.  The greeters at the door spoke to us, the greeter inside the door at the table spoke to us, the pastor spoke to us, all before the service.  As we passed the peace, people spoke to us and welcomed us. After the service the pastor thanked us for coming.  By name.  (Seriously, we had name tags on. But it still felt good to have someone say “Melody, thank you for visiting today.  I hope you come again.”) They gave us a little gift bag with popcorn, mints, and some literature about their church.  It felt good.

I think everyone who is a long term member of a church should visit some other place once a year with no connections and no friends. Just to remember what it feels like.

2 Comments

  1. David Dixon on October 14, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    Hey Melody, I wanted to offer a brief follow up on this – and I’m not arguing, just sharing my point of view. I think there is some danger in this line of thinking in today’s culture. People are so emotionally swayed by feeling welcomed; enough so to often feel the need to leave something they’ve committed to with the thought that “these people are different” or that “these people know what the love of Christ really is.” What it conveys to me is how powerful this emotion is to the human soul. At the same time, it conveys to me that looking inward and seeking to become a more welcoming person in our own worlds is an important takeaway that has to be considered. People are people . When people leave something to find “better” people, they always find people, full of flaws and shortcomings (but it usually takes time to find the flaws). We can take positive steps to become the welcoming people that we so favorably respond to. What I’ve learned from Bonnie is that to really be a welcoming person, you can’t worry about whether people like you or not – or that you like them – that is where I so often see it fall down. If we try to be nice and friendly and people don’t respond, many of us simply say, “why bother” and we gradually (and unknowingly) become cold and unwelcoming, or we think less of ourselves and / or the other people. From Bonnie’s view, she could care less about whether people like her approach or not, she just believes that being friendly and welcoming is what we’re supposed to do. Christ implores us to build the church, not “go to” church or find the “right” church. We must be the church. But, I get your point – we need “out of body experiences” occasionally to see the forest for the trees. David

  2. Melody Reid on October 14, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    David thanks for your comment. I agree with everything you said, especially all the nice things about Bonnie, which are all true. I really wasn’t making a statement about looking for something better or the grass being greener somewhere else. I just haven’t been anywhere new in a long time and it reminded me what it feels like to be on the outside.

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