My wife and I are very different. Michelle is a rule follower. She sees rules as a strict guide line and goes above and beyond to make sure she is obeying them at all costs. In a different life she would have made a great police officer. I, on the other hand, am quite the opposite. I am what you would call a rule bender. The way I see it, most rules are just suggestions, they don't necessarily have to be followed exactly. Don't get me wrong, I know there are rules out there that are vital to keep in order to maintain a happy, healthy and safe life, but if I can, I will find a loop hole so that I can do what suits me. This makes for a very fun and interesting relationship!
Now, since we are in a different church every Sunday we have learned to be very aware of the different rules and guidelines for each church. I can't tell you how many times we have walked into a church on a Sunday morning drinking our Starbucks making sure there are no signs saying “No food or drinks” only to have someone quickly tell us, “I'm sorry, but there are no food or drinks allowed in the worship center.” UGH! We looked, double checked and made sure we weren't breaking the rules and still got it wrong!
I know, every church is different. Every church has it's own set of guidelines as to what is acceptable and what is a no-no, of course that is to be expected. The problem occurs when only certain people know the rules and don't tell anyone else until they are being broken. If we want church to feel warm and welcoming and we want make sure no one feels out of place or like they are “getting in trouble”, there is a very simple solution. Put up a sign! If people know the rules, they will follow them (most of the time)! When we walk into a church that has a “No food or drinks” sign posted in front of the worship center, we know what the expectaions are and will follow them.
Here is another real life example. Recently we visited a well known church in Los Angeles. Being that it was our first time there we were unsure of where to go and where to park. As we were getting close to the church there were signs directing us where to park, then when we were walking up there were sign showing us where to go for the service, and people greeting us and helping us find our way. It was great, very warm and welcoming! However, when we got to the worship center there were people standing in front of the doors not letting anyone in. We weren't sure what that was all about, so we just stood in the hallway waiting. We watched as the door keepers listened to their ear pieces like the secret service, then finally opened the doors at 6pm. We realized they were just keeping the doors closed until a certain time, but there was no information to let us know. If they simply had a sign stating “Doors Open at 6pm” that would have made all the difference! Sure, the people who had been there before knew what to expect, but for a first time guest it was a very strange and awkward feeling to be standing in the hallway wondering why we can't go in and sit down.
So, as we prepare for Easter and the many guests that will be coming through the doors, I want to encourage you. Be welcoming, warm and friendly, but to make sure that everyone, guests and members, knows what to expect and what is expected of them, make sure it is clear. Put up a sign! Remember, no one wants to feel like they are “in trouble” or “did something wrong”, especially when they are coming to church! Sure, you are going to have people, like me, who are going to try to bend the rules and do what they want, but hopefully they will have a sweet husband or wife, like I do, who will encourage them to follow the rules!
Those are some of my thoughts, I would love to hear yours! Feel free to leave a comment here or on our Facebook page www.Facebook.com/JustinGravesBand I would love it if you would pass this on to the leadership of your church, too! Thanks for hanging out with me today!