A friendly church is one of my favorite things I have seen on deputation. The truth is most churches are friendly. God’s people are some of the kindest people in the world…and we should be! Why is being a friendly church so important? For one, any visitor ought to feel welcome. I can remember the first time I visited our home church. This was back in the 90’s. I was in high school. The church was not very big. We only knew one person there (a man who invited us). None of that really mattered because the people were so friendly! We felt right at home. The choir sang about Jesus and smiled while they were singing. They didn’t look miserable! People came by and shook our hands and welcomed us to the church. People we didn’t know were introducing themselves and saying things like, “We are glad you came today” and “We hope you enjoy the service”. It was refreshing to us. The truth is, almost two decades later and I cannot remember any song that was sang that day. I cannot remember the message or the Bible text that was preached. I cannot remember specifically who came and greeted us when we sat down. I do remember a friendly church. Every Bible preaching church ought to be a very friendly church.
Our deputation has been full of friendly churches. I think back and one does stand out. We arrived early for the service, as we always do. We are almost always one of the first people at the church. The people were so friendly there. It took me back to the first service I attended at our home church. The church family smiled while they sang about Jesus. They all greeted us and seemed to be genuinely glad we were there. We felt right at home.
What makes a friendly church? I am sure there are many different things that can listed. We have been in a lot of churches. God has allowed us to be with well over 200 church families. Here are my thoughts about a friendly church…
- Size is almost irrelevant. A large church and a small church can both be friendly. Both have advantages and disadvantages. Neither translates to a friendly church. In other words, just because a church has fewer people or has attendance in the thousands, it does not make it a friendly church.
- Smiles go a long way. Whether it is the Pastor, the choir/music leader or the family sitting behind you, a smile is a very simple way to convey happiness, welcome, and friendliness to others. It does not come across well if a choir, quartet, or any other singing group is singing about Jesus and they look miserable.
- Friendly churches show themselves friendly. This seems obvious but there are churches where the people are not at all friendly. Churches show themselves friendly in several ways. Greeting people is important. Including people is important as well. Have you ever been to a church where the people each gathered with their own “circle of friends” and you were left on the “outside” of any conversations? This is not a good thing. A friendly church shows themselves friendly by greeting people and including them in conversations, inviting them back, making them feel at home.
- Friendly churches are interested and invested in the services. A church service is not a performance. People should be interested and invested in the service by actively listening to the Bible message, by singing along with the song leader, by serving in the church’s nursery, choir, greeting team, etc.
I am encouraged by the many friendly churches we have been in on deputation. It is not by accident, churches work at being friendly but I must say it does not go unnoticed. Friendly churches are some of my favorite things I have seen on deputation.