While watching the pre-game show leading up to Super Bowl XLIV, former Denver Bronco Shannon Sharpe interviewed Reggie Bush of the NFC Champion New Orleans Saints. Sharpe asked the 2005 Heisman Trophy winner what went through his mind when he was first drafted out of USC by New Orleans. Bush replied, "I didn't want to go!" He went on to explain that Hurricane Katrina had torn the city apart and certainly the Saints was not the most desireable of teams to play for.
When Bush arrived in New Orleans, he was given "the tour." As a resident of New Orleans, I had given many of those tours. It consisted of showing people all of the positive aspects of New Orleans, and all of the devastating scenery left behind by Hurricane Katrina. I can still remember the looks on faces when they saw with their own eyes what they had seen on TV. Bush stated that the tour certainly did not help his desire (or lack thereof) for wanting to be in the city.
Following the infamous tour, Bush was taken out to dinner at one of Emeril Lagasse's restaurants in the city. Bush said when he walked in the door of the restaurant, the people stood up, applauded his arrival, and began chanting his name. They were glad he was there. Bush stated that immediately his feelings about the city changed. Suddenly, he felt as if New Orleans was his city too. He was not simply welcomed as a guest, but was welcomed home.
As I watched that interview, I thought about people that come in to our church every week. Like Bush, they come with certain preconceived ideas. Some of them are convinced they will not have a great experience before they ever set foot inside the door. How are we at welcoming them? What are you doing to make sure that a guest coming into our church or into your Sunday School class feels like he/she is being welcomed and embraced?
When people enter Walker Baptist Church, they need a friend. They need someone who will come along beside them and break the ice. They need to sense that their presence is welcomed and that they can be a part of the family. Take the time to invest in the lives of the people that God places in our path. A wise old elder once told me, "People are not a hindrance to ministry, people are the ministry." Let's love them with the heart of Christ.