Helping to Clear Up A Guest’s Confusion

Have you ever stood in someone else’s kitchen and wondered where they kept their cups?

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).

Don’t point.

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!

Dark Eyes, Deep Eyes

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:

WestBow Press

Barnes & Noble

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About tnealtarver

I've traveled and spoken around the world but always love to come home. There I eat exceptional meals, drink coffee to my heart's content, and get loved like nowhere else on earth. I believe a community centered in Christ should be all that and so much more.
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3 Responses to Helping to Clear Up A Guest’s Confusion

  1. Kari Scare says:

    Years ago when my oldest was really young and we had just started going to our current church, a friend who knew him and us took him to his class and let us stay in the sanctuary. Must have meant something if I still remember it over 10 years later.

    • tnealtarver says:

      A memory from 10 years ago is significant. And your comment illustrates the importance and power of someone coming alongside to help/guide you. Jesus spoke about the Holy Spirit as “One called alongside.” We join the Holy Spirit when we come alongside others in need. We experience the Spirit’s touch through someone who does the same for us.

      • Kari Scare says:

        I love how you describe the Holy Spirit working in our lives. I have been feeling the “urge” to delve into spiritual warfare and the working of the Holy Spirit more in my life, and your comment fits perfectly into where my thoughts are going. I am feeling like I don’t operate in the spirit enough, if that makes sense, and that my physical self gets too much leverage.

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