by Kim Lyon
In our women’s Bible study this fall, my leader Barb Poston issued a challenge to the ladies in my group. Since we were studying what it means to be hospitable, Barb challenged us to be as welcoming as possible to those we see every Sunday morning at Christ’s Church. I decided to take Barb’s challenge seriously so I arrived early on Sunday mornings so I would be ready to greet some people I didn’t know. I have done this the past few weeks and it has been such a blessing to me.
My husband and I have acquaintances we can say Hi to and two couples we have socialized with outside of church. But If they are not there on a given Sunday, we feel alone—which, of course, is ridiculous, and only a feeling of self-pity. I know God has gifted me for more than self-pity. The first week of our “challenge” I arrived about 10:15 a.m. and was surprised, and a little disappointed, to not see many people standing alone on the fringe. I just kept pacing back and forth across the lobby like a hungry cat. Before long, I came across a lone woman sipping coffee. I approached her and introduced myself to her and she looked quite shocked to be spoken to. She told me she had been coming to our church for about a year and a half. Her son and husband were down the hall. I wished her a good day and as I started to walk away, she asked, “What was your name again?”
Several weeks ago our women’s ministry director Shawna Goldstein posted on Facebook regarding the Sunday morning challenge, and a few of the comments just broke my heart, such as the one about the girl who left our church after a year of never being spoken to. This has fueled my desire to be intentional about speaking to people on Sunday morning even more. It is so easy to get wrapped up in ourselves, fly into the church building late, and fly out to get to the day’s activities. But what are we really there for?
The next Sunday, I asked God to show me who to reach out to that day. A face immediately came to mind—a couple who sit in front of me every week at church that I had never spoken to. As soon as church was over, as we were heading out of our row, I took the opportunity to introduce myself. I simply said, “I sit behind you every week and have never introduced myself. My name is Kim and this is my husband, Greg.” A great conversation followed and I found out that she really wants to get involved in some activities but just doesn’t want to go alone. Oh my! It is not difficult for me to talk to people, even strangers, so I often forget how hard it is for many to even take that first step to attend an activity where they know no one. What an easy way for me to help others. We exchanged phone numbers and promised to stay in touch. I have become Facebook friends with the her, we have continued to chat on Sundays, and I have invited her to join me at a women’s event.
Back out in the lobby, I had some extra time so I thought I would search for someone else to talk to. I approached a lady standing alone by the coat rack. I introduced myself and had a nice chat with her and her daughter that joined us. They have been attending a few years, since the daughter had been invited to visit by a high school friend. They have not gotten involved in anything other than Sunday morning services so I encouraged them to look into the Rooted experience and I told them how much I had enjoyed it myself.
The apostle Paul challenges us in Romans 12:1, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him” (NLT).
I am grateful for the challenge issued in our women’s Bible study this fall. It has opened my eyes to be on the lookout for those who may need an encouraging word, a smile, or an invite to a church event. The church really does exist for those who are yet to belong to it, and I believe it is the job of every member at Christ’s Church to offer ourselves in service to our Lord and to one another every time we meet together.