Sunday, January 5, 2014

Making People Feel Welcome, Without Embarrassing Them

At church this morning, the pastor was leading the congregation in singing “Happy Birthday” to the people with January birthdays.  Ordinarily, we sing “Happy Birthday” to each person, one at a time.  Today, however, we sang it to all of them at once rather than one at a time.  The reason was that we were behind on time, and we still had to do the Lord’s supper.

I don’t like it when the entire congregations sings “Happy Birthday” just to me.  I would prefer for it to sing “Happy Birthday” to all of us with a birthday in a given month, all in one song.  I just don’t like for everyone’s attention to be on me.  I’m not exactly sure how I’m supposed to respond when people sing “Happy Birthday” to me.  Should I put on a big grin throughout their singing?  When people sing “Happy Birthday” just to me, I feel like hiding.  I don’t mind when people’s attention is on me as I am delivering a sermon, for, in that case, I’m not sitting there, wondering how exactly I should respond.  Rather, I know what to do, for I have a script.

I don’t think that I am the only person with this sort of issue.  I remember reading one of Rick Warren’s books, and he was talking about reasons that some people don’t like going to church.  One reason he mentioned was that they don’t want to stand up and introduce themselves to the entire congregation when they are there for the first time.  That’s probably because they’re private people, even if they may have more social skills than I do.  Speaking for myself, I’ve had good experiences of standing up before a congregation and introducing myself, and I’ve had embarrassing experiences.

I’m very, very hesitant to say that churches should get rid of asking new people to stand up and introduce themselves, though.  The reason is that I have been at churches or groups that did not have that feature, and the result was that people didn’t know who I was, and I continued to feel like an outsider.  Asking people to stand and introduce themselves at least gives the impression that the church is welcoming, that it cares about new people who come.

I’ll leave the comments on because I would like to read feedback.  I won’t publish any snarky or insulting comments, though.

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