I recently ran across a site written by an Anchorage man who had purposed to visit every church in his town and chronicle his findings in a weekly column in the Anchorage Daily News.
Here is what he says about his experiment:
As a student of religion, I've seen how various factors in a church visit affect spiritual growth and religious attitudes as one searches for a church home. I visit churches to observe, firsthand, how they present themselves to visitors. My visits, with a few exceptions, focus on Christian churches. This blog contains accounts of those visits, and related posts. I look for the following in my visits:
• Friendliness and warmth
• Genuine welcome, true Christian hospitality
• Effective, well-delivered bible-based main teaching
• Music deepening the worship, not just entertainment
I found his observations fascinating. In some cases, he was greeted warmly, but in others completely ignored. He wrote about having to walk around impenetrable groups of members clustered together chatting just to get to his seat.
One church even had the word "friendly" in its name, but he found that it just wasn't.
I think the observation he makes here is downright shameful!
What, Invite Visitors to Lunch?
During this past year, I've only been invited to a church meal once or twice. I fear that many times visitors to our churches could use a meal, but are routinely ignored or not included. It's not my case to be needing a meal, but several times, when departing, I waded through a church crowd chowing down, or preparing to do so, without a single member noticing or asking me to join them.
I also found it very interesting that many times, the church members defended themselves in the comments section instead of realizing their error and committing to being more welcoming.
I always try to introduce myself to visitors and invite them to the weekly Bible study we have in our home. This blog has made me even more aware to seek out those people to invite them to lunch and make sure they feel welcome.
I don't want a visitor to say these things after attending a worship service where I was present:
No one greeted me or acknowledged my presence.
Leaving the church and going to my car, I left alone and unnoticed.
Make sure to read his archives to see what he says about specific visits.