I don't know about your church, but at Granger Community, we expect a lot of additional guests around the holidays. Thousands, actually. We host a production on weeknights to offer a unique venue to "church" for our friends in the community (This year, Scrooge: a Modern Musical). We offer ten Christmas Eve services on three campuses, along with our regular offering of eight weekend services.
We expect thousands of new people this Christmas season. People who haven't attended church services much, if at all, the rest of the year.
There's a hidden trap in all this. When we acknowledge that many of our guests don't attend services except at Christmas time (or Easter), we are prone to assume they won't return 'til next year.
And that subtle assumption can adversely affect our approach to guests this season:
- We may focus on "managing the crowd" and overlook individuals with whom we could connect.
- We may merely attempt to "get 'er dun" and mishandle the additional staffing needs that exist.
- We may merely be "nice," and not fully "show up."
- We may say "thanks for being here" without any expectation - or invitation - for our guests to return next weekend for service.
- We may assume people are coming in for a "show" or a traditional, annual, candlelight service and dismiss the fact that people still enter our building broken, lonely, confused, and searching for hope.
Instead, let's agree to:
- Staff our teams with more people than we "need" so we can be particularly attentive to opportunities the Holy Spirit opens with individuals we'll greet.
- Not be so focused on the logistics and details of the candles, the programs, and the parking that we miss people.
- Pray that people are so engaged in the Story, so influenced by the Spirt and so embraced by the love of Jesus through us that they respond to our invitation to "join us again this next weekend."
- Pray for people before they arrive, as they walk through our doors, as they listen to the Good News of Jesus.
- Pray for specific opportunities to speak hope into broken places and offer acceptance as only Jesus does.
People matter. Not only at Christmas time, but certainly at Christmas time.
What is you are doing to make sure people know they matter to God this season?