Yesterday at church as the worship service started, we ran into what is becoming a more familiar problem – we needed more chairs. So several of our guys brought in about 20 more chairs from other rooms so that everyone would have a place to sit. When I look around our congregation there are many faces that I do not know – people with names unknown to me. Yesterday was no exception. The exception was that I intentionally took the time to go introduce myself to one family after the service ended. It is always an awkward event for me – at my core I am very shy and introverted. But God’s Holy Spirit kept drawing me to them, so out of obedience I simply walked over and introduced myself. I had no idea if they had been coming for months or if this was their first visit.
As it turns out they were visiting area churches because they may be relocating to our area. We had a great conversation and it was wonderful getting to meet them and chat for a while.
I remember being that family. Visiting churches. Relocating. Uprooting our children.
It isn’t an easy process. Sometimes we had to visit churches for months before we found the right place for us. (You generally can only do one each week.) Most of our moves took us the better part of a year before we felt we had friends. Relationship building takes time.
I also remember visiting churches where NO ONE spoke to us. Visiting churches that were spiritually dead. (You could actually sense that God’s Holy Spirit wasn’t present.) Visiting churches that had different worship styles, different foundational principles, different sizes, programs, languages, races, and cultures. Seeking the place where God would have us invest in His kingdom ministry. Where He would have us unite our family with His body of believers in that place for that season. And man did He have much to teach me in those places. Each of our church bodies helped grow me up into Christ Jesus. Each offered their own challenges, opportunities to see God in a different light, and all of them loved us well. God’s body is made up of many members.
I have things in my house from most of those places and people. Things that remind me where I have been, where I have come from, where God has taken me. Things that remind me of God’s faithfulness – wherever I go – El Salvador, Pinckneyville, Columbia, San Angelo, Carbondale, Aledo, Galesburg.
Sometimes He will call us to go. He commands us to go – into all the world. It is easy to stay in our comfort zones concerned only about us and our immediate family. But we also need to look around. Watch for those in need right where we are. Seek out those in the congregation who you do not know. Take just a few minutes to reach out a hand of welcome. Say good-morning to someone new. Listen to their story for a few minutes. You may just make a new friend.
So slide over. Joyfully make some room for others. You never know who may be passing through that God has purposed for you to bless. Be obedient in the little things. Be present. Be available. Be kind. Be encouraged. Press on.