Matt Chandler had some wise words on welcoming people in your Sunday gathering:
We have spent a great deal of time thinking through what happens in our weekend services. We want to teach deeply the things of God and do it in a way that the unconverted among us can hear and understand. Everything from what and how we sing to words used, not used, and redeemed are thought through. Even the welcome and announcements don’t escape this dialogue. Each weekend I do our welcome and announcements at The Village. I like to be the one who does it because the guests that are there will hear me teach after the worship so I like to introduce myself before we get started. Every week I purposefully say the same thing to our first time guests. It goes something like this:
“Good Morning. My name is Matt Chandler I am the Lead Pastor/Teaching Pastor here at The Village. If this is your first time visiting with us I want to welcome you. I am guessing that if this is your first time here you are in one of two lanes. The first lane is that you are a believer with a background in church and you’re new to the area or are just checking out our community. If at some point in the next hour or so your heart and mind are moved and you want to know more about us, you can fill out one of the cards in the seatback in front of you and either drop it in the joy boxes or, and this would be our preference, walk across the parking lot to the white portable buildings and there are some men and women over there that can answer any of the questions you might have about the church. The second lane is that you’re here today and you aren’t a Christian and don’t have a background in Church or not a recent one anyway. I want to welcome you. This is a safe place for you to have some doubts about what we are saying to be skeptical and curious. There are no doors that are closed for you here so explore as much as you want. Go to a home group, check out Recovery, help us mentor local students, hop on a plane to South America or Africa and help us, help others. As a former agnostic myself, I have a great deal of respect for the genuine seeker. If we can help answer any of your questions or serve you in anyway let us know.”
Over the last few years, people who have given their testimonies in the baptistery have commented on the welcome. It disarmed their fear and anxiety about being in a church for the first time. I want to encourage you to do church deeply. Preach to Christians, sing God-centered, Christ-exalting songs, participate in Communion, read the creeds, but do all of it with the lost people among you in mind.
This reminds me of what Tim Keller says about a characteristic of the missional church.