T.S. - Let’s explore what the church should look like to people who are seeking a spiritual encounter with the Lord.
Scenario 1: “The visitor”
John and Amanda and their kids Jonah and Michele decided to go check out this church they had heard about on the corner. Amanda called the church and a pleasant person answered the phone. Amanda asked what time their services where and the nice pleasant person answered her questions and even expressed a warmness in her voice about them coming.
So the next day they were off to a new place a little bit scary Amanda recalled how nice the person was who she had talked to about the service times. They drove past the church and found a good parking spot right near the entrance to the church. They approached the front of the church and a nice distinguished man opened the door for them and welcomed them. He asked their names, where they lived and how long they had been in the community. John asked a few brief questions about the nursery, and kid’s ministry. The distinguished man gave them a tour of the building showing them where everything was. He also gave them a handbook about the church. They also received a very professional looking bulletin with lots of valuable information.
Just as the distinguished man was showing them where the sanctuary was he ran into the nursery worker for the day so the distinguished man introduced Johnny to the nursery worker and the sweet nursery worker made Johnny feel excited about the nursery. Mom and dad felt a bit easier and thought these people here do care about us.
They then proceeded to the sanctuary where they met the Children’s director a person who is bubbly and lovable. She shares her heart and vision for Kid’s church briefly and invites Michele back for Kid’s church right after praise and worship. Michele seems a little shy but tells her mom and dad how she likes Mrs. Bubbles. They proceed to find a seat. They sit in a nice padded chair and think my theses chairs are comfortable. They sit there looking through the bulletin and very impressed with the preliminary music being played in the background. The temperature of the sanctuary is just right. They noticed that building is clean and neat. The décor of the building is up to date and decorated with a warm friendly atmosphere. The stage is neat and professional looking. A couple next to them greets them and welcomes them to the church.
They notice the people talking and visiting with one another and they think it’s like one big family. But they themselves feel a warm welcome from everyone around them. The nice distinguish man comes back and gives them a visitors packet. They look through it and discover a card to fill out to receive additional information about the church. This packet once again welcomes them and asks if they have any prayer needs. They also learn about the various ministries in the church.
The preliminary music stops and a person opens up the service in prayer and greets everyone. They then greet each other and he highlights a few announcements. There amazed at some of the areas people are helping others out in the community. He then turns it over to the praise team and they are marvelous. They play with excellence. Not only are they doing great musically but they feel that they are drawn closer to God through the time of praise and worship. They also like that they are not required to stand through the whole service. They noticed that this was one of a few services they been too where the pastor encourages the church to take a few moments to pray. Some people even go forward to be prayed for by the pray teams. It’s very meditative and reflective time for both of them and they feel the Lord tugging at their hearts.
They sing a few more songs and notice that the sound system is great. The pastor gets up to speak. They can hear every word he speaks clearly. The kids go out to the nursery and to kid’s church. The two settle back excited that they can focus on the message while their kids receive messages at their level.
The pastor is dressed nice but not over dressed. He is energetic welcoming and he makes them feel relaxed. They are surprised at how multi-media is used with his sermon. He draws them into the message and once again they feel God tugging at their hearts. He challenges them from the Bible. He makes the Bible relevant to them. They enjoy how he helps make the Bibles message personal to them. He gives them insight into how to apply what they learned today to their life. He is not long winded but finishes with their full attention. He closes with a challenge and a prayer for those touched by the message. He then dismisses them leaving them wanting more.
They go to get their kids and others greet them and welcome them. They met one of the leaders who then invites them out for coffee that week.
The leader then takes them to the pastor and introduces them. The pastor inquires about them personally and they talk for a little bit. The pastor encourages them to read through the hand-book which he instructs the leader to give them. He smiles lets them know that if they have any questions to give him a call. He also invites them to have dinner with them when it is conveint. They are also invited to another room where they can have coffee and a donut with some of the other leadership if they would like.
The kids are brought to mom and dad bragging about how they had fun. The kid’s are beaming and mom and dad are thinking while these people seem to care about us.
They leave the church with a smile and feel they have been touched by the love of Christ through this group of people. They are impressed with the servant attitude and helpful spirit of the church.
The few days later they receive a letter thanking them for visiting and a little survey asking what they thought. They talk to each other and say “Wow!” this church cares what we think. They value our perspective. They appreciate our input!” They fill out the card and mail it back with the self-addressed envelope. They think this church wants us to be a part of their family. They agree to go back the next week to learn more and see if this is where they want to be apart.
T.S. - Let’s explore another scenario of what the church should not look like!
Scenario 2: “The Visitor”
John and Amanda are looking for a church because they feel the need to plug their kids into a church. They find one in the paper and they call for some information. A gruff voice answers the phone and says, “What do you want?” Amanda asks about their service times. The gruff voice tells them the times and mumbles something about their church being the only true church in town. Amanda a little bewildered thinks the man must be having a bad day. Thanks him and hangs up.
The next morning off to church they go. They find the church but they have to walk a little ways because there are no easy parking places. They come to the door walk in and there are people talking but no on acknowledges them. They wander around the church looking for the kid’s church area and they find none. They look for a nursery and it’s empty with one old crib in it and they notice the nursery is filthy with food all over the floor and dirty. They look at each other and think there is no way they will leave their precious Johnny in this mess. They wander around bumping into people with no one acknowledging them or even smiling at them.
They eventually find the sanctuary and have a seat. They discover on the floor a bulletin and pick it up to read it. Right then a bunch of screaming kids come running through the sanctuary yelling. They run out another door after knocking over some chairs and bumping into others.
The people in the sanctuary are talking and everyone ignores the kids. They also feel that they are being ignored as well. Finally one man approaches them and says, “HI” - “Who are you!” and before they can answer he says, “Do you know Jesus sinner?” They are taken back but answer that they think so. Then the man points his finger at them and says, “Turn or Burn!” and he walks away muttering, “We have sinners in the church. Satan be gone!” They think he is very strange and weird. They hold their kids closely by their sides and start looking for an exit. Just then a man in a suit comes to the platform and the microphone squeaks like an injured cat. He hits microphone and says, “Welcome everyone! “We are here to serve God right” no one responds then he yells it this time and everyone say’s “That’s Right”. A few people come forward and start playing music. They are off key and out of sync as the man from the pulpit leads them in singing. Everyone sings along and this noise goes on for a half and hour. They sit when the man says, “sit” and kneel when he says, “kneel” and stand when he says, “stand”. Amanda thinks are these people puppets.
They eventually sit down and a young girl gets up to do a special. The music starts in the wrong place. They start it over again. She sings the best she could and turns red and finally labors through the song. She concludes everyone claps and she walks by the couple saying, “I will never do that again!”
Then another man in a suit to small for him stands up in front and says it’s time to give all our money to God. John thinks maybe they will buy him a suit that fits. The man shares some Scripture about giving. He then points his finger right at John and yells’ “Don’t rob God of his money you vile sinner!” John is taken back but thinks maybe he is pointing at someone else. They pass the offering plate around and the usher stares at everyone to see if they put in any money. If they do they get a nod of the head if they don’t they get the “Evil eye!”
After the offering the Pastor goes to the pulpit and starts to yell and scream at everyone. John and Amanda are covering their children’s ears because they are looking scared. Michele leans over to her mom and says, “Why is he mad at us?” The man rants and reads and repeats himself numerous times. He continues to go off on other subjects. John and Amanda have no idea what he is trying to say. They start looking at their watches thinking when can we make a run for it. The sermon goes on for 45 minutes and he finally ends. He once again points his finger in their direction and says, “Repent sinners or you will burn in Hell!” He pauses and everyone turns and looks at them, “Come now and get washed in the blood sinners and be delivered he screams!”
John thinks to himself “This place is sick this must be a cult of some kind!”” I don’t want to be washed in the blood of anything.” They grab each other’s hands and run for the door, dodging people pointing their fingers at them. They run to the car and the kids are screaming. They speed away to safety! In the car they look at each other and say, “Praise the Lord we have been delivered!”
Do you see the difference in the two scenarios? Do you see why the church gets a bad rap? Do you understand that what we do in church matters? Do you care about visitors? Do you want to make a difference in people’s live? Then we must do church “God’s Way!”
Related Text Illustrations
Contributed by Brian Mavis on Oct 30, 2000
Mother Teresea “We have drugs for people with diseases like leprosy. But these drugs do not treat the main problem, the disease of being unwanted. That’s what my sisters hope to provide. The sick and poor suffer even more from rejection than ...read more
Contributed by Doug Sanders on Jan 2, 2001
HOW TO CATCH A MONKEY Native hunters in the jungles of Africa have a clever way of trapping monkeys. They slice a coconut in two, hollow it out, and in one half of the shell cut a hole just big enough for a monkey’s hand to pass through. Then they place an orange in the other coconut half ...read more
Contributed by Sermoncentral on Apr 20, 2001
One fine Spring Sunday morning, a Priest was gazing out of a rectory window at a nearby Trout Stream. "Today would be a good day to sneak off and go fishing", he thought. The weather was perfect, his fly rod had new string, he had very recently heard reports of a good Trout run, and the Associate ...read more
Contributed by Sermoncentral on May 16, 2001
THEY DIED IN THE SERVICE One Sunday morning the pastor noticed little Alex was staring up at the large plaque that hung in the foyer of the church. The plaque was covered with names, and small American flags were mounted on either side of it. The seven-year-old had been staring at the ...read more
Contributed by Bruce Howell on Jun 19, 2001
A high school girl wrote the following letter to a friend: I attended your church yesterday. Although you had invited me, you were not there. I looked for you, hoping to sit with you. I sat alone. A stranger, I wanted to sit near the back of the church but those rows were all packed with ...read more