As ALL pastors’ wives know, we are almost always lone pew sitters. While other couples snuggle up, get comfortable, whisper their thoughts together during a worship service, we pastor wives’ sit alone.
Today was one of those rare Sundays where my husband Earl was not behind the pulpit, but right next to me on the pew. Not our James Island Presbyterian pew, but it happened to be a Baptist pew… We had a Sunday off and went to worship together.
But upon entering the sanctuary, we were not greeted by any greeter or ushered to a seat by a church usher. We found our own bulletin, located the restrooms prior to service and then seated ourselves. There were people in the sanctuary talking amongst themselves, couples and groups, and though we were noticed as visitors, we only had one person introduce himself to us.
One gentleman strolled up from the front of the church to shake hands and say welcome and then off he went to chat with someone that he knew. Next, Earl got up to ask someone who was preaching (it was not listed in the bulletin), and while he was gone, a woman walked past me, I caught her eye, and she was compelled to do one of those little waves and “Hi, how are you doing?” I am not sure she heard my answer because she walked away and wasn’t close enough to have heard my response.
Once Earl and I were back together, not one other person approached us for the next 15 minutes while we waited for the service to begin. We both felt a bit unwelcomed.
Upon reflection, I of course, had to think about our church. Is this the way our guests feel at times? Earl and I both try to take time before both services to welcome and to greet not only our longtime congregants, but also all those visitors who walk through our doors. Pastors do not normally have a lot of time before a service to walk out and talk to the parishioners, they are mentally preparing and praying to hear and deliver God’s Holy Word. But they and their people all need to take the time. I see our members walking around and talking to others every Sunday. And I am glad.
But how does that happen?
First, I believe that the pastor’s wife needs to take the lead and get out in the congregation and talk to people. Not only should she welcome them, but be sure to ask about their lives. If you know something about the person, ask about something in particular. If not, ask what they did that week. This gives the pastor’s wife the ability to find things out that perhaps her husband/pastor is not yet aware of. She can fill him in and he can then be sure to contact with that individual later on that day or week.
This is also the perfect time to approach someone who is visiting for the very first time and offering him or her a name and contact person (yourself) if she/he has any questions or need to talk. It would also help to even invite a lone person to sit with you, so he or she doesn’t feel alone in a new church environment.
But this is just me. I am but one person. Yet as the pastor’s wife maybe taking the lead in this, it might encourage other members to be a little more hospitable, warm, and welcoming. Not only may there be more greeting members, but by your actions, you will be reflecting Christ to those around you and they WILL begin to follow your lead.
Hebrews 13:1-2: “Let love of the brethren continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.”
God’s peace and understanding,