People get sucked away and lost forever on the second or third or fourth visit immediately following a church service (and especially during any waiting periods- like before a fellowship meal).
This is the black hole of time. Initial hellos have been said. Handshakes have been exchanged. So everything is supposedly good now. The regulars can do their regular things, and the visitors are supposed to feel at home.
But they don’t feel at home. Not even a little. And when they’re forced to stand around while the regulars talk with perfect ease, or when the visitor consigns themselves to an empty table, not knowing what to expect, watching church life occur all around them, the temptation is to leave. To flee, actually. And never come back.
If you’ve been at the same church for years now, maybe you forget this feeling. But it’s real.
So if I may be so bold, let me encourage you to go out of your way to fill the black hole of time with warmth. Stay with the new people. Actively invite them to your table or sit down next to them. Go out of your comfort zone.
Can I say all that again? It is really quite important.
Stay with the new people. Be a good host. Take the time to hear their story and share yours. Ask good questions. Don’t leave them feeling awkward. And don’t wait too long to invite them to your house for a meal.
Hospitality and friendliness are powerful things. They can single-handedly close black holes.
**This post originally appeared on Gentle Reformation.