Other churches might envy the steady visitor traffic we have at First Church.  We do not have trouble attracting visitors.  Our challenge is welcoming and retaining them.

Robert Crossman of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership proposes that worshippers pay attention to who is in their “circle of ten.”  He suggests that worshippers greet everyone –member or guest – seated within ten feet of them.

Our hospitality to the gathered community of members and visitors on Sunday is one way to show God’s love and act  as the beloved community.  And extending hospitality is the job of all — not just staff and official “greeters.”

Mary Taylor-Johnson, Adult Education and Membership Coordinator, advocates for a simple “hello, nice to have you here.”  She warns against acting too intrusive: “In large urban settings like ours, people sometimes want to be anonymous at first.  They will give you cues when they are ready to take the next step.”

Once you’ve embraced Crossman’s “circle of ten” practice, he has another one to recommend: “The Rule of Three.” Knowing that most visitors exit the building within three minutes after worship, spend those minutes talking with persons you don’t know before catching up with family and friends.

With visitor numbers as high as ours, it is no surprise that we don’t recognize many people in the pews around us.  It can be difficult to distinguish visitors from members.  But if we seek to welcome all and act like the Beloved Community, does it matter if the persons we greet are visitors or new members?