Two words, actually. See below.
Someone says, “Pastor, I’m sorry, but I can’t just walk up to strangers at church and introduce myself and welcome them the way you’re asking us to. That’s just not my nature. I’m sorry.”
We all know the feeling. You walk into your church on Sunday morning, thinking about your Sunday School lesson or a hundred unrelated things. You greet a couple of friends on the way in, see some elderly member who needs a hug, get stopped by someone with a question about tonight’s fellowship, and you rush along. You did happen to notice that unfamiliar family looking lost in the entranceway, but you were in a hurry. Hopefully, someone will step up and assist them.
You hope someone will. You hope.
Now to be honest here, not every visitor to church looks as though they would welcome a greeting. Some wear frowns that signal their distaste for any social contact. Some may as well hang signs around their necks shouting, “Stand back!”
And, being respectful people, we don’t want to intrude. If they don’t want to be greeted, we can accommodate them. So, we look away and walk on.
Not all unfriendly churches are made up of cold people. Most are composed of salt-of-the-earth church members who want to do the right thing, but are a little shy and do not want to come across as pushy. They don’t want to intrude.
I have a word — two, actually — to shy Christians.
First: Get over it.
As a church member, you are the host every bit as much as if they had just walked into your home. It is your responsibility, your privilege, you great opportunity even, to walk up to the newcomer, look him/her straight in the eye, give them your best smile, and say, “Good morning! My name is Joe. We’re delighted to have you here today!” (I like to remind new members of the church that they too are hosts. Today’s newcomers have no clue that you just joined the church last Sunday. Walk up and greet them.)
That’s how it’s done. Now, practice doing that.