I read this on a sign at an O’Charley’s restaurant I visited in Nashville:

At our place, everybody’s a regular.

What a powerful statement, especially to me on my first time in the restaurant.  That sign told me that I was being viewe a regular customer, even though it was my first time to ever step foot into the place.  I knew none of the waiters or waitresses.  I didn’t have my “special” seat.  The waiter didn’t know my name or what I “always ordered.”  Yet from the moment I stepped foot into the restaurant, I felt valued.

And the service I received backed that up.

I felt like an honored guest.  My waiter went out of his way to make sure I was served well.  He was skilled at his job, and was great at making our table feel served and appreciated.  I really did feel like I was a regular there.  The service was beyond my expectations…especially because there were 40 people in our group.  My tea was always full.  He made sure I was satisfied with each course of food.  He made sure my son was happy.  And he never seemed frustrated that my son was roaming throughout our section (for the record, he doesn’t normally do that, but he was in a foul mood because he was sick, so we let him roam a bit).

Yeah, our service was top notch.

This principle holds true in churches as well.

The way you treat visitors at your church says much about what you, as a church, value.  If you treat them as honored guests, you are saying:

1. We love you, even though we don’t know your story.

2. God loves you, and He does know your story.

3. We love others because God loves us…not because a person is an “insider.”

4. It’s ok to “come as you are.”  Questions, mess, and all.

5. God’s big enough to handle your junk.

Can it be said of a typical Sunday morning at your local church, “At our place, everybody’s a regular.”?

When was the last time you thought, “What impact will this have on first time guests?” as you were planning a Sunday morning environment?

Have you ever tried putting yourself in the shoes of a first-timer, trying to see and experience what they do, from the parking lot to the worship service and the children’s environments?