By Austin Brown
I’m not thinking about the people who get their keys out during the last song and scurry away immediately after the benediction (or maybe during!). Nor am I thinking about those individuals who only halfheartedly care about church, showing up maybe a couple times a year.
No. I have in mind those families or individuals who are actively looking for a church home. Perhaps they’ve recently moved. Or perhaps they’ve gained new convictions. Whatever the reason, they’re visiting your church, eager to settle down and call the people of the congregation their church family.
Forgive the nasty little phrase, but these folks are church shopping.
Now as you know, there are all kinds of reasons why people don’t stay. Some of the reasons are good. Some not so good. Fastidiousness is a real thing after all.
My fear is that we will lose people in the black hole of time.
Oh, yes, the black hole of time. This is that period of time following the service when the visitor is standing around awkwardly, knowing not a soul. As the church bustles about, clumped together in their familiar groups, catching up and fellowshipping, the new family nervously gathers their stuff, looks about the room and waits.
They’re hoping to be included.
Now here’s the truth. Lots of people do come up and say hello. Most churches are good at this. Oh, sure, there are a fair number of regulars who don’t pay them much attention, as they’re too focused on chatting with friends or getting some matter of church business in order. On the whole, however, the newcomers are warmly greeted.
But that’s not the real black hole of time. The real black hole occurs later. And it usually occurs at two different, but related moments. Do you know when?