Reposted from Old Paths Journal
1 John 3:18 – “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”
As I sat in church the other day, I looked around and counted several new families. These precious people are new believers who have been faithful to church the past few months. We’ve also had some wonderful families move here to be a part of our ministry – what a blessing! The Lord adds to His church as we do His work of spreading the Gospel, inviting people, being a help to the community and staying true His Word.
People are enthusiastic when they first get saved or join the church, but sometimes they gradually lose interest and drop out. We, as ladies, can do something to help our pastors care for new people and help our churches grow and thrive.
The first step to helping our church is to make room in our hearts for new people. We’re so busy carrying a busy mental “load” of duties that there’s no room for thoughts of people. Aren’t people the whole point of the ministry? I have my circle of church friends with whom I fellowship and some of us have known each other for over forty years. My family also attends church and I love speaking to them and visiting with my granddaughter during the services. I think this habit can become a potential killer for the purpose of church. I’ve changed my mind about my fellowship goals while I’m on the church property. Of course, I say a quick “Hello” to my dear friends, but in my heart I know it’s time for making new friends and checking on Christians who may need encouragement. It’s time to include, not exclude.
When we make room in our hearts to accept new people, the Lord opens our eyes. When I see ANY visitor enter our church building, I think of that person as an absolute MIRACLE! When I think of all of the people I’ve invited to church and how many have actually come – that can be discouraging! God sends us visitors we may not have even invited, and we need to recognize their preciousness and realize each person is a gift from Heaven. In this world of sin and immorality, it takes a lot of gumption to get up, get dressed and attend an independent, Bible-believing, Baptist church. Wow! These people deserve the red carpet treatment and our attention. These visitors are great opportunities for our churches to be revived! We work so hard to go soul winning and invite people, but when someone walks in the door we don’t pay them any attention or feel like we’ve been intruded upon.
The next step is to make room in our schedules for new people. My Sunday routine can be almost robotic. I have each task and duty planned down to the split second. Wake up the family, start the coffee maker, have devotions and prayer time, review Sunday school lesson, put the roast in the slow cooker, get ready, practice the offertory, eat breakfast, leave for church, take care of music ministry duties, set up for Sunday school, go to general assembly, teach Sunday school, practice with the singing group, play the prelude for church and off we go! Sound familiar?
The Lord worked on my heart about this schedule, my aging knees did too! The Lord made it clear to me that I needed to slow down and meet and encourage any person in my path. I’m not the Lord’s gift to anyone, but I can shake a hand, ask about their welfare, find out a visitor’s name, etc. I decided to be a few minutes early to church so I wouldn’t be running a race before Sunday school. I also decided to leave the piano area via the auditorium instead of sneaking out of the side door. If any visitors or new members are still in the building after I play the postlude, I do my best to get to them and meet them. I’ve made friends of a lifetime by being the first to welcome them to church. It’s not hard, they’re more afraid of us than we are of them.
As we become acquainted with visitors and make new friends, a whole new personal ministry for each of us begins. Our prayer lists and prayer life grow as each person’s name is added and their needs become important to us. This friendship and fellowship is not just one-sided, we BENEFIT from the personalities of the new believers and members who join our church. I have new friends to text, write letters to, wave at, share laughs with, and I know they pray for me, too!
We also need to make room for people who’ve left the church and visit or want to come back. If they have a spirit that is not destructive, they should be welcomed by all. God does not care for pharisaical attitudes from His children. God is merciful and loving, and we should also show His love and mercy. This can feel difficult for us, but think about how hard it is for them to come back into the building and face the entire congregation? It takes tons of courage to come back if you’ve missed for a while. We need to make room for them, and we need to be a part of the healing process so they can fulfill God’s will for their lives.
Let’s start welcoming anyone who comes into our church doors. If they’re in the building, make room on your pew. If they don’t speak English, smile big and make room on your pew. If they’re prettier than you, make room on your pew. If they’re fat, make more room on your pew. If they’re rich, make room on your pew. If they’re younger than you, make room on your pew. If they’re not dressed in church attire, make room on your pew. Get the point?
All it takes is one welcoming face, one warm handshake, one person who knows their name to give a person a feeling of “place.” Be the person who makes room for one more!