I’m not sure where the phrase, “handle with care,” originated. It’s usually reserved for advice regarding that which is fragile or even volatile. It really is applicable to those who visit our assemblies because of their value and importance. They came through the doors of our church building intentionally and with a purpose. Initially, we cannot know why or how sincere their purpose. That process of discovery could not be more important. Consider some reasons why we should handle every visitor with care:
- Each has an eternal soul (cf. Mat. 25:46).
- God could not love that visitor any more than He does (John 3:16; 1 Tim. 2:6).
- God loves that visitor as much as He loves you and me (Acts 10:34-35).
- That visitor is likely seeking spiritual guidance (cf. Mat. 7:7).
- Each visitor is subjected to a first impression, being left by you and me.
- That visitor is going to make judgments about the church, the Bible and Christ based on what he or she sees (or fails to see) from you and me.
- The smallest gesture of kindness toward such a one could lead to the salvation of a soul.
- We cannot know what anyone else is doing to make their first visit a good one.
- Each one is being exposed to the Bible and to New Testament worship, and follow up can lead to further interest.
- That soul is connected to many others, who might subsequently be reached (2 Tim. 2:2).
- You and I are official ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20).
- The Golden Rule should prompt our warmth, helpfulness, and sensitivity (Luke 6:31).
- We are each part of a team, trying to connect each of them with what only Christ can offer them (1 Cor. 12:18; John 14:6).
- There is no guarantee that there will be a next time (Prov. 27:1).
- Statistics tell us that most visitors find the churches they visit to be unfriendly toward “outsiders” (see, for example: Thom Rainer).
- Loving others is commanded, and visitors are included in “others” (Rom. 13:9; Gal. 5:14; Jas. 2:8; etc.).
- Visitors constitute perhaps the easiest inroad to developing interest in a Bible study, as such have reached out to us by attending.
- Our excuses (“I’m shy,” “That’s not my job,” “I’m not good at it,” “I’m busy”) ring hollow when carefully examined.
- We love the church and believe in its relevance and importance.
- Each contact is a valuable way you and I can contribute service for our Servant-Savior (cf. John 13:12ff; Mat. 20:28).
The list is far from exhaustive. I am convinced that none of us neglects a visitor out of contempt or even indifference. Yet, it is good for you and I to encourage each other, to “stimulate one another to love and good deeds” especially as it pertains to assembly-related matters (Heb. 10:24-25). Wouldn’t it be exciting to be the friendliest church around, especially if our message and practice is faithful to God’s Word? What a powerful combination! Let’s help each other earn such a reputation, for reasons such as the above.