I love roller coasters. I love tall roller coasters. I love fast roller coasters. I love tall fast roller coasters. That’s why I love the Titan in Arlington, TX. According to about.com the Titan ranks number six among the tallest roller coasters in the world, featuring a drop of 255 feet, and wikipedia ranks it ninth among the fastest steel roller coasters in the world at speeds of 85 miles per hour. WOW!!! What I do not love is that feeling right before you step into the roller coaster car, the moment when you wonder if this is the biggest mistake of your life. That moment when the unknown rushes in and you just want to bolt.
I wonder if people experience the same sensation right before they walk into church for the first time? Most of us have forgotten what it is like to visit a church. We are veterans. We basically know what is going to happen every Sunday (this might not be a good thing) in both our small group and worship. We forget that the people we invite to church do not have this same advantage. They have no idea what to expect and the unknown is very intimidating. But a little information will be a great service to those who accept our invitation to join us in worship or small group Bible study. Here are a few suggestions.
Tell people the dress code
People really are worried that they will not be dressed right and that they don’t have anything to wear. Often times we write this off as an excuse, however dress is a viable concern for people who have never been to church. If jeans are acceptable at your church (which they should be) then assure your guests of this. If most people wear “business casual” then let your guest know that as well. They will be more relaxed and more likely to anticipate the visit favorably, and not feel like they stick out when they arrive due to being over dressed or under dressed.
Tell people the agenda
What is going to happen? Remember that most who have limited exposure to church have formed their expectations based upon television and movies. Does your church look anything like the Hollywood churches, or televised mega churches? Since it probably does not then your guest will be less anxious if you brief them on what to expect.
Tell people the level of anonymity
Your guest really is afraid that they will be singled out, made to raise their hand, asked their name, asked to stand, or given the dreaded VISITOR: My Name Is – tag. If they will be asked any of these things then let them know up front. If they will attend anonymously then assure them that they will not be singled out.
We forget how scary church can be because we love it so much. But do your guests a favor try inviting them without scaring them to death.