A satirical look at a too often reality in many churches these days.
So, you don’t like all those pesky new people who visit your church? Well, here are a dozen ways you can get rid of them once and for all, and get your place back in this church that you helped to build.
1. Make first-time guest parking inconvenient by having your family park alongside you at the spaces closest to the door, even if they are marked “handicapped only.” Make the new people park in the back. After all, it is you who have supported this church all these years and you should have the best parking spots.
2. Use grouchy people as greeters. Teach your greeters to meet visitors with a complaint; such as by telling them all that is wrong in the world, or how much the preacher will get on their nerves because he tends to chew on his pen in business meetings, or how long-winded his sermons are. And, be sure to mention that the preacher’s wife has her nose so far up in the air she would drown if it rains. Those kind of things.
3. Pretend that this is a doctor’s office and treat guests like a doctor treats new patients! Ignore the guest for a few minutes. Make them stand and wait until you finish with what you are doing before you acknowledge their presence. Finish that chat with your friends; after all, it would be rude of them to interrupt while you’re talking with someone else. You should always act like the guest has been to your church before and knows what to do and where to go. Post a lot of signs. And best of all, hand them a clipboard and ask them to fill out some lengthy forms!
5. Don’t escort guests to their classrooms or help them discover where their kids will go to Sunday School. Just point in the general direction and send them on their way. After all, you have more important things to do.
6. When parents show up with their snotty nosed kids in tow, put questions in the parents’ minds about the safety and security of their children. You might mention that convicted sex-offender who is now a Sunday School teacher that you heard about once at another church or ask them if they heard about the latest priest or preacher that was arrested for sexually abusing boys. Remind them that this kind of thing could happen anywhere; after all, we are all “sinners saved by grace,” and we are imperfect. Right? I’d go as far as to say that if you do a good job on this one, you could likely ignore the other eleven.
7. Make finding a good seat in the auditorium really hard. Don’t save any seats at the back of the room or on the aisles. Learn to turn your heads away from the door so nobody sees newcomers enter. If you can make a guest come to the front of the room, or crawl over several people to find a seat. That one really works well. And, most importantly, NEVER, EVER give up your designated seat for a guest. After all, this is YOUR church; and these people won’t come back again anyway more than likely.
8. Have guests stand up while everyone else sits … or sit while everyone else stands. I’m not sure which of these two ideas work better. I almost think the practice of having guests stand while the rest of the congregation gawks at them is better if you want to make guests feel unwelcome. Either way, it will make your visitors feel awkward for that moment they are in the spotlight.
9. Randomly call on visiting people to read or pray without asking them in advance. After all, if they really want to be part of this church, they will have to get with the program.
10. Don’t ever take the initiative to great someone yourself if it is not your turn to be a greeter, and when you are asked to be a greeter, do it half-heartedly when greeting visitors. Remember, you opposed the idea of having appointed greeters in the first place because , after all, that is what you pay the preacher for, isn’t it? But, the church elected greeters and you just need to make the best of it. Remember, it’s not your place to be friendly to new people because they just wreck this perfect church that we’ve built with their wild ideas anyway.
11. Gossip is very important in the war on maintaining our standing in this church. So, you should stand around the Welcome Center or the front door and turn it into a place where people can come to hear the latest gossip. After all, “inquiring minds want to know.” Be sure to gossip about things that make the visitors feel uncomfortable.
12. Intimidation is a powerful tool in the war to protect our church from takeover by hostile visitors. Here’s a good idea that’s bound to work. Somewhere along the way, get the visitor into a place where they hear you as you talk to another person in the church who is fighting in this war alongside you. You should call the visitor’s name to your friend in your “private” conversation, being sure the visitor can hear you as you talk. Ask your friend “privately” if they know anything about this person, and if they are known to you already, you could insert some juicy tidbit of gossip about them. Then, when in the presence of the visitor, pretend the conversation never took place. Works every time.
And, we wonder why our churches are dying on the vine and people are going to hell because they hate the organized church. May God open our eyes to what we are doing….and not doing.
You are loved with an everlasting love; and I love you, too.
In Our Master’s Joyful Service, Ed Smith