I gotta get something off my chest. It’s been on my heart, or “chest” for that matter, for a while now. It has to do with “New Visitors”. These are the people that either by invitation or personal choice have come to our church services for the first time, or for the first time in a long time. These people I believe are precious in the sight of Jesus, and being such, must be so in ours. Sadly, I think that they can be important in our thinking and in our philosophy, but never take that place in our hearts. The following are a couple things that I have been thinking about our beloved “New Visitors”.
1.) We can’t just invite them into our church, but we must invite them into our lives
I can’t tell you how many times that I have invited someone to church hoping they would come meet Jesus and have their life changed. But at the same time, thinking of them simply as a notch on our salvation count or our overall attendance. I invite them into our service with no intention of ever really having them in my life; operating with the assumption that “someone else will be the one to REALLY CONNECT with them, all I have to do is get them here.” When we create a culture like this, visitors become quite literally what we call them, visitors. They come once, maybe twice, and never again. Why? Because believe it or not, people can sense when they are being reduced to a tally mark rather than being treasured.
2.) We must shift our mind from thinking of them as Visitors to VIP’s
If we were to be honest with ourselves, we have “a way” to act with visitors, it usually goes a little something like this. We say hi, we act interested, we say a couple nice things so they don’t think we are total jerks, we get through the service not being incredibly rude to them, we say bye to them, saying we hope to see them again soon, but all the while doing it with no real intentions of making sure that we actually do see them again. Now, you may read this and think “I don’t act like this.” Rightly so, I wouldn’t imagine that anyone would think that they do. However it’s not how YOU feel you interact with them, it’s how THEY feel you interact with them, and when former visitors repeatedly claim to come into our services and not feel loved, cared for, valued, or treasured that is what matters NOT your great intentions. So what do we do about this? We need to treat them like VIP’s not visitors. VIP’s get VIP treatment, they get the red carpet, they get first-class, they get the upgrade, they get treated like a VIP. Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying that we need to try really hard to impress VIP’s but SEE THEM AS VIP’s. Truth be told when you see someone a certain way, you act a certain way around them. When we see someone that we would be interested in dating, or marrying we most definitely act different. When we see someone that can bring harm to us, we act different. The way we see people affects the way we treat them. If we see someone that is here today gone tomorrow we will treat them accordingly. When we see someone as a VIP we treat them as a VIP. Visitors get invited into our services, VIP’s get invited into our lives.
I hope that by reading this, something in you has been moved to change how you see VIP’s, and how you interact with them. Go ahead, mark my words. When His church begins to value people like He does, our services will not be able to find buildings large enough to hold them.