When I go running in the dark, my second biggest fear is being sprayed by a skunk. But my greatest fear is “unfriendly church people.” (See Thom Rainier’s article The Top Ten Ways Churches Drive Away Guests)
Last Sunday a couple showed up in the lobby and told me they were invited by their friend. I took them to the row where their friend was seated but her row was completely filled, as was the row behind her. The row in front of her had a coat and a purse spread out in order to save seats. I picked up the coat and directed them to sit in front of their friend. One person in that row gave me the “no” signal. But the other person signaled the guests could sit in that spot.
The next day her friends told me they had a good experience at our church and plan to come back this week. Close call — happy ending.
It is fun to go running where squirrels are happily at play. The atmosphere is friendly and there is no reason to fear. Each Sunday you play a big part in creating the atmosphere for everyone else at church — including our guests. Smiling at people, introducing ourselves, and taking a genuine interest in them is a bigger deal to most people than everything else at church combined. Those who do so are like squirrels. Those who don’t are like skunks. Are you a squirrel or a skunk?