It seems that everybody has a first time guest horror story.

You show up at a church for the first time and you’re either put on the spot, ignored, or confused. People don’t talk to you, or the pastor calls on you from the stage, or some other nightmarish scenario emerges to make even the most raging extrovert cringe in embarrassment.

I’ve both experienced and heard of a whole library of guest horror stories, and there’s one thing they all have in common: comfort. Nope, not the comfort of the guest (they’re sweatin’ bullets in the third pew back), but the comfort of the regulars.

Church people naturally tend to drift towards an inward focus. When they do, they forget that part of the purpose of the weekend is to serve as a front door to the community. And so – being inwardly focused – they pursue things that guarantee their own comfort: insider language. Insider traditions. Insider everything.

Comfort for insiders will always lead to discomfort for outsiders. When the weekend starts to revolve around our likes, our preferences, our comfort, it will naturally make outsiders feel like…outsiders.

But the reverse is true as well: comfort for outsiders can mean discomfort for insiders. We have to think about our processes and systems. We have to remember that there are others in the room. We have to change what we’re doing because we realize it’s not all about us.

So who do you want to make uncomfortable this weekend? The people you’re trying to reach? Or the people who are already in the pews?

Something to pray about.

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