This is a story about radical hospitality – making others not only feel welcomed, but feel engaged. It was after the church service and one of our more recent visitors approached me about baptizing her two boys. I asked about having time to talk with her about what it means and also about the family joining the church. All that is great, but it’s also secondary to what I wanted to tell you.
As I was visiting with the mom and she was holding on to her two young boys, our worship leader, Matt, came over and asked one of the boys if he wanted to try out the drums. There is a primal attraction between boys and drums, so he said yes. Matt sat him down on the stool and gave him some sticks and let him bang away a little bit. But then he began to instruct him. He said, “Here, hit the big one. Now this one.” And then he began to guide his hands with his own and said, “Do this – hit like this, then hit this up here…” (and so the young boy knocked out a quick rhythm and ended with a cymbal clap).
The lesson was short but sweet. Matt did a great job of not just letting him bang away on the drum but making him feel like he could make a smooth sound and put together a real combination of beats and sounds. I loved watching that young boy’s face as he got a short lesson behind that BIG drum set.
If you want to know how to make others feel not only welcomed but engaged, there it is. It’s not just saying hello, it’s making them feel special. It’s not just having a nice atmosphere with nice people, it’s having the willingness to find a way to help them engage, a willingness to help them connect. You can’t have everyone play the drums, but you can invite them to lunch. You can choose to sit nearby them instead of saying hello and then walking off to your regular seat. You can ask them if they’d like a tour of the church – and then walk with them and talk to them about themselves and their family and show them what they might like to see based on what they tell you.
There are lots of options, but what’s most important is to pay attention to those around you. Think of ways you might make them or their children feel special and connected. That’s the step beyond being a friendly place. That’s being a caring, connectional place. That’s marching to the beat of a different drummer – marching to the beat of God’s drum.
How might God use you this week to make someone else feel valued and worthy of special attention? How might God choose to use you next Sunday to help a visitor feel more like family?
Holy high-five to you, Mike