Lessons from My Church Visit

I visited another church in the area this past Sunday morning. On vacation, but not out of town, I wanted to see how someone else does “church.” Here are a few things I learned:

1. It’s tough to go to a church you’ve never been to before. Even though I’m a pastor and have been going to church all my life I found myself a little nervous getting ready to leave the house. I think Christians should understand how much courage it takes someone, who doesn’t go to church regularly, to walk through the doors of a strange place and to go through the foreign (to them) experience of worship.

2. There is a difference between greeting and welcoming. As I walked through the front doors, which were opened already, I was greeted by a kind woman, “Good morning, glad you are here today.” I walked through the somewhat crowded lobby looking for a sign to the worship space. As I entered the worship space about 5 minutes early I was handed a bulletin, “Good morning.” I found a seat on an empty row, which wasn’t hard since at this time 95% of the people were still in the lobby. That was the end of my welcome.

3. During one of the early songs there was a welcome time, though I couldn’t hear it because of poor sound mixture. The row in front of me turned and each offered a smile and a handshake with a “Good morning.” They were the last people to speak to me. I will say that people were talking to those around them in pleasant tones with smiles on their faces, but there wasn’t much welcome for me. I don’t think this is unusual for churches. We are often much more friendly to one another than to unknown guests who haven’t come with someone. And we will respond to questioners that we are a “friendly church.” Maybe we should look at our friendliness from the perspective of the unattached visitor.

4. I enjoyed the music and the preaching was great, a wonderful message on the importance of Scripture in our lives drawn from Psalm 119. It was odd though that on this Sunday it appeared that only about 10% of the congregation brought their Bibles. Perhaps that was a holiday weekend anomaly.

4 thoughts on “Lessons from My Church Visit

  1. I had to comment on visiting churches because our family has been doing that for some time. And I agree that it is a little scary going to some place new. It’s hard when you move and leave your old church, but finding a new church can be much harder. You would think with all the churches in this area that one would have no problem plugging in. However, I guess it has a lot to do with the individual’s needs and expectations of a church. And then again, it is sometimes hard to find the new church that is like or similar to your old church.

    When I visit a church I notice some of the same things that you mentioned above. You can have the prettiest church, the biggest congregation, the best music show, and the best messages but, if someone does not feel welcomed then the other stuff does not matter. They will sit there and smile and pray that 12 o’clock will come soon. I felt this way the one Sunday while visiting a nearby church. I felt like a bump on the log and maybe only one or two people came up and shook my hand. None of them stopped to carry on a conversation or to get to know more about me. By the way, I responded to one of their emails and told them how I had felt and would continue looking for a church family. Church family is the key. To me a church is like a family that loves one another and comforts and picks each other up in the time of need.

    Another thing that I find important is a good Sunday School Class (or life group). A place where you can fit in and grow together. It’s had to believe that some local churches do not even offer Sunday school classes. And those that do give you this long list of topics you can choose from. As a new first time member, it does not even matter, just point me towards a class of people close to my age group.

    Well good bible based preaching is a plus as well.. hahaha

    So lets talk about Spring Creek (haha its all good). When my family and I walked in for the first time, I felt very welcomed. We were escorted to a Sunday School Class and made to feel right at home there as well. Prior to service, several people came up and talked with us thanking us for coming. Even after the service, we felt the same friendliness as we departed. As I got in my car to drive home, I was like WOW this is really a loving church. Why had I not stopped in to visit before wasting time traveling all over to other churches? We have visited 3 times now and we are beginning to get the feeling that we may have found our new church family.

    Tim & Lori Hutto
    (my wife is in the wheelchair)

  2. I could not say it any better Tim. We moved to Spring a little over a year ago and until we visited Spring Creek I never “felt” truly welcomed. A church should be your family, and I find that especially important now that my nearest family member is over 400 miles away. God has truly blessed us with finding this church family and I hope he does the same for you.

    Jason Rees

  3. My husband and I are fairly new members to Spring Creek, and I grew up in a Baptist Church similar to SCB. I visited many other baptist churches in the area with my (at the time) infant daughter. I can give you a little insight as to why we chose Spring Creek as the place we now call home. At a few of the other churches, I simply felt overwhelmed. Some people are comfortable in a large, state of the art church with a ton of members, but I grew up in a VERY small town, and I love how personal a smaller church feels. How can you feel like family if you walk into a room full of strangers every day? Or you have to schedule an appointment a month in advance to speak to your pastor? I love that Spring Creek is a personal church, and even if you don’t know someone personally, you know their face, and you aren’t intimidated by a crowd. In almost all of the other churches I also felt pressured to put my baby daughter into their nursery. Every time someone came to say hi, they also would tell me, “You know we have a nursery, why don’t you put your child there?” There is no amount of persuading that could convince a new mother to drop her child off with strangers, and you definently don’t want to feel like your child will be a nusiance in the service. I went to church with my daughter because I wanted to feel the spirit of the Lord, and I wanted to be there to guide her in her new found relationship with The Father. The decision was made for my family when Steve told us on the first day we went in, That although the church had a nursery, if I wasn’t ready to use it he didn’t mind the noise she would make, he actually liked it. The people there are amazing, and we couldn’t find a better church family. We thank God for guiding us to Spring Creek.

  4. Thanks so much for all your stories, they are a great encouragement to me. I know how difficult it is to find a church home and how hard it is for a church to communicate genuine care and sincere desire to our guests. Between these two things, it’s great to know that we have, on occasion, gotten it right. 🙂

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