In my recent trip to Texas, I wondered that each time I stayed with family or friends (a total of 5 homes in 2-1/2 weeks).
I ask that question because, when we visit somewhere, we always have to orient ourselves to our new surroundings. This is true whether it’s a friend’s home, an unfamiliar grocery store, a foreign country, or a church.
While visiting my brother in Llano, Texas, I stopped by the local United Methodist Church to connect with a fellow pastor. Outside the church, signs pointed in various directions to help a visitor find the office, sanctuary, and other parts of the building. But once inside I found no such helpful directions. I felt a little disoriented. I knew where I wanted to go—the pastor’s office—but I didn’t know how to get there.
On the other hand, I visited a pastor friend who lived just outside of Texarkana, Arkansas. I attended the Sunday morning worship service and saw this very helpful sign.
I knew where I wanted to go and I knew how to get there.
Now imagine a guest visits your church, your home, or your small group. How can you help him or her get oriented?
Think like a tourist. Tourists have lots of questions when they tour someplace interesting and new. Some questions are common. Everyone asks them. Some are unique to specific people. Either way, consider what questions you would have in entering a place for the first time. Also consider what fears or concerns you might have in arriving at an unfamiliar destination. Take time to answer touristy questions.
See with fresh eyes. This can be a challenge because you know where you keep the cups in your house. You also know the pastor’s office is “just to the right of the vestibule, down the hall, and the second door on your left.” The visitor gets lost at the word “vestibule.”
The signs which you think are helpful may be seen in a different light through the eyes of a stranger. See things from his point of view.
Show the way. For a year, I worked at the Walmart in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. I learned several important lessons while working there (like when two ladies waddle out with a cooler between them, they may be shoplifting—I offered to help carry their heavy burden; they grunted, “No, no, we’ve … got … it.”).
I also learned when someone asked, “Where can I find coffee filters?” to stop what I was doing and walk the customer to the aisle where coffee filters were located.
By the way, I worked in Lawn & Garden, nowhere near the coffee filters.
When someone’s lost or confused, guide them to the right place. This is true whether the confusion stems from being in an unfamiliar physical place or a just-as-unfamiliar spiritual position. “Always be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (I Peter 3:15 NIV).
Go with them.
Maybe even offer them a cup of coffee (or beverage of choice).
I’m curious. What’s the coolest, most helpful thing someone’s done to make you feel at home in a new place? For me, a pastor friend recently invited me into his office to pray with the church leadership before the worship service. Way cool!
Two men. Two eternal destinies.
One common hope.
What people are saying:
“Dark Eyes, Deep Eyes” was a compelling read for me. The vivid descriptions challenged and ignited my imagination.—Ron Fruit, GM, WRCO Radio
A very intriguing book that puts a different spin on Heaven and Hell. It is not just fluffy clouds and a fiery lake. T. Neal Tarver has created a story that you won’t want to put down until the very end.—G. Worthington, College Student
Dark Eyes, Deep Eyes can be found at:
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