Do you know people who can’t seem to talk about anything besides other people? I know people like that, and I often wonder why that is their topic of choice. Could they really have no other interests? I expect that the majority of people who do this are trying to make themselves look better by tearing down other people. Maybe this describes you.
First Thessalonians 5:11 tells us to “encourage one another and build one another up.” I realize that building things takes more effort than tearing things down, but it is effort well spent. It’s amazing how much one encouraging word can change a person’s mentality and give them a desire to change whereas berating a person can make them give up and stop trying.
Years ago, I attended a church service where a man came in carrying a coffee table Bible. Before long, it became obvious that this man wasn’t “churched.” In fact, I don’t know if he had attended a church before. He had an exuberance that I don’t recall seeing before or since, and during the service he asked a lot of questions. This annoyed those around him since church is a place to be quiet and listen to the pastor, don’t ya know. Thankfully, the man seemed oblivious to those around him as he struggled to find the passages that were being referenced so he could learn as much as he could about this God he must have only recently found.
After the service, my brother talked with this visitor until the young man had to leave. As soon as he departed, one of the older women in the church declared, “Well, who invited him?” I never saw the guy again but I hope that he did not become disillusioned by people who should have come alongside him to mentor him and encourage him in his faith instead of scorning and ignoring him, hoping he would go away.
This wasn’t going to be the focus of this post but, while I’m at it, let me encourage you to make sure visitors feel welcome in your church–not just because you want to increase attendance but because you want them to feel loved by God. Church was not designed to be a social club; rather, it should be a place where we encourage, exhort, and even rebuke each other when needed (2 Timothy 4:2). We are to be a family. This doesn’t mean that we will agree on everything but that we learn to love each other in spite of differences. I’ve visited too many churches where people ignore visitors while taking the safe route of talking to people they already know. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. A simple, “Hi. How are you doing today?” could mean the world to a struggling Believer.