What can we really do with one-sixth of one hour? I know. It doesn’t seem like much time. Most of us spend longer each day commuting to work, standing in line, sitting in traffic, etc. It may not make a difference in most situations, but there is a place and a time where ten minutes could change lives and possibly the world.
What we do with the first ten minutes after our weekly worships services is vital to creating a sense of belonging for members and fostering a welcoming atmosphere for visitors. Let’s consider some things that we could do with this short, but pivotal stretch of time.
First, we should seek out a visitor and make them feel welcomed. Depending on the size of a building or the number of exits available, there is always the possibility of missing visitors who are in attendance on Sundays. However, we may be guilty of using these reasons as excuses for not being more diligent in making it a point to find and greet our visitors. There is nothing more discouraging than visiting a worship service and feeling as if you are unwanted or unimportant.
James explained this feeling and its negative effects in James 2:1-9. Although James was speaking in the context of prejudice, who really wants to feel out of place or unwanted like the man in ragged attire (Jam. 2:3)? We may not choose to talk with a rich visitor rather than a poor one, but all of us, at some point, have chosen to talk to a friend or another local member in favor of using that time to talk to a visitor. Sometimes visitors will pass three or four members of the church before one will make an effort to speak to them. Friends, such should not be the case. Perhaps that person is seeking a church home. Do you suppose they would want to be part of a family where some feel excluded or unappreciated?
Others chose to allow other members to do their greeting for them. Every congregation has those two or three (or more) members who take this responsibility to heart. However, we must continually ask, “what if every member we just like me?” Or “what if the friendliness of this church family depended on how I treat each visitor?” There will be plenty of time to talk and catch up with fellow church members, but there may not be time after the first ten minutes to meet and greet the visitors that we consider our “honored guests.”
Second, we could use our time at the end of each worship service is to commend and thank those who took a public lead. It is common to express appreciation to the preacher (even if we did not closely listen to his sermon) because he is usually standing near the exit when we leave. But how many of us make it a point to commend the song leader for a job well done. What about the men who took us before the throne of God in prayer? Often these men are more nervous in their public roles than the preacher, but far too often we take them for granted and certainly do not thank them enough for their examples of courage and participation. If every member is important (1 Cor. 12:18-24) and every role they fill is important, then we should take the time to express our gratitude for their efforts. While those who participate publicly are not doing their good deeds to be seen and praised of men, everyone needs to be encouraged and appreciated!
Therefore, the next time the “Amen” is said and the thoughts of getting to the car, talking to that old friend, or simply not talking at all enter our minds, remember that those few precious moments immediately following the services could be used to strengthen the brethren and to assist others who may have a genuine need. We may not be aware of it, but a simple “Hello,” “Good to see you,” “Glad you were here this morning” or “Good job,” might make all the difference in the world.