Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with a church member. She had put out a request for someone to reach out to her. I recognized her name because she had started attending a group one semester ago. I discovered that she, like so many others, had been a part of the 80% that occasionally came to Believers, but didn’t engage anywhere else, until she did.
In her case, it was a life circumstance that had turned up the heat enough for her to step out and sign up for a group, even though she was terrified to do so. One thing I pulled from our conversation that evening was that for her, signing up for a group was a huge step of faith.
It is in times like these that we may only get one chance. One chance to prove that we are not like others who pretend to care all the while treat hurting people like an inconvenience. One time to show them that even though we won’t agree on everything, we still want and value what they have to offer. One moment to genuinely engage them in conversation showing that we are truly interested in hearing their story. One first impression.
I vividly remember the first time I heard this statement, “First impressions are lasting impressions.” It resonated with me because I could relate. My first impression of trying out a new doctor’s office, or trying a new restaurant left lasting impressions. It is rare. I mean it’s really rare for me to re-visit a place that didn’t leave a good first impression on me.
It’s a bummer for those places because it could have been a fluke, a bad day, or unforeseen circumstances that had nothing to do with the real value that they had to offer; unfortunately, they may never get another chance to change my opinion. For them, it means money and business, but for the church, it could mean a missed blessing or opportunity.
Over the next few weeks, we will be inviting people to engage in community through BeGroups, and special events like Big Day and Gauntlet. We must be willing to reach out and intentionally provide space where they are welcomed and genuinely loved. You can play a big part in helping us make the best first impressions! Not to make ourselves or Believers look good, but to point them to the One who can change their lives forever. Clearing the way for God to work mightily in and through His church!
Maybe it’s a simple invite to your group or a special event, perhaps it’s an invitation for coffee after church or a group meeting, maybe you have a heart for God and others and it’s time to consider leading a group of your own, or maybe it’s time for you to engage and get plugged into community yourself. Whatever your circumstances, I pray that you take your next steps, so we (the Church) are prepared to help others with theirs.
May our collective prayer come from I Corinthians 3:10, “By the grace God has given us, may we lay a foundation as wise builders, for someone else to build on. Lord, help us all to build with care.”
I’ll see you and your guests this Sunday as we continue our Creatures of Habit series!
~ Pastor Jenifer