I know she has to be right. I have never been in a health food store in my life. I do walk past them in the mall, but I see nothing inside the store that looks the least familiar---no Hostess Twinkies, Snickers Bars, or 2 liter Pepsi bottles. If I walked into the store, all I would feel is lost and out of place.
How do you think people feel who have never been in a church (an increasing portion of our population) when they attend a worship service for the first time?None of the hymns are familiar (we regular church-goers often feel uncomfortable when there is only one we don’t know). They feel completely "out of it" when the congregation recites the Lord’s Prayer and sings the Doxology. They have never before heard either. It’s also a great mystery to them to figure out when to sit and stand.
I write all this to help us all become more sensitive to the newcomers in our midst.
I don’t want to say all this without also saying we are doing a good job making some newcomers feel welcome. (Of course, the ones to whom I am referring usually have had previous experience with church). I am speaking of the increasing number of Colgate students who worship with us (we had six this past Sunday). One of them recently wrote me, "The first day I visited your church I immediately felt welcome and among friends."
Let’s make it our goal to make more and more people feel that way.
©C. David Hess