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The Sermon Starts In The Parking Lot

Think back to the last time you went to a meeting someplace new. It could be visiting a church, a business meeting, a meeting for a new ministry, or even a social event in a new place. For me, it was attending the IFI banquet that happened a couple of months ago. IFI had done an excellent job of sending email directions on where to park, where to go, and what to expect. However, I still felt a lot of anxiety. I wasn’t exactly sure if I was parking in the right place. There were so many doors to enter the building and it was raining so I wasn’t sure where to go in and felt the need to decide quickly (because we were getting wet). I didn’t pick the “right” door so once I went in, I was confused (I was in the middle of a coffee shop). I did finally find a helpful IFI person and sign (but it was about 5-10 minutes into the journey). He directed me upstairs to an area full of IFI tables for registering that was overwhelming at first glance. Then it happened – I saw Phil! I was saved. All my anxiety melted away. I knew Phil and Phil knew me. He walked me through the process of next steps. I was feeling better. Then the next challenge hit – where’s the little boys’ room?

Going new places is hard. Going into an environment where everyone knows each other, and you are the newcomer is even harder, especially if you are alone. Kind of like this:

So everything - from where to park - to where are the bathrooms - to where do I take my kids - to will my kids be ok - to when do I stand (oops, everyone sat down again) - to will anybody talk to me - to will everybody please stop talking to me - to will I ever have real friends here - to is the teaching solid - to feeling pressured to put something in the offering plate - to where do I pick up my kids now –is making a guest to our church feel stressed.

The guests that have the biggest struggle with these stressors are those that most need to be here. Think about it. Those of us that are churched and committed to being involved in a church can overlook many of those uncertainties IF the teaching is Biblical and the people are committed to Jesus. However, those who are not believers yet or who are new in their faith can easily find those barriers almost impossible to overcome. Then add to all the stressors, questions, and insecurities the fact the message of the gospel is, in and of itself, extremely challenging. We should want to do all we can to help set their hearts and minds at ease, so they can focus on what really matters, Jesus. As Danny Franks puts it, “The gospel is offensive (nothing else should be).”

Guest Services Team

We have been working towards making it easier for new people to feel welcome at Maranatha. We have added new signs and renumbered rooms. We are planning to continue to make some changes and improvements to better meet the needs of our guests. We want to enable them to do what is most important when they are with us, connect with Jesus through worship and His word and build relationships with the church.

One major change that we would like to see take place is the expansion of our Guest Services Team (presently our greeters & ushers). As wonderful a job as our greeters and ushers have been doing, there is more work than they can handle alone. We would like to add: more greeters, parking lot helpers, guides (people to take guests to the areas they need to find), Welcome Center attendants, usher/seater, and team members to help with registering guests in our new children check-in system.

You can probably see what is coming next. Adding all these positions means we will need more people willing to help. We would like to only ask people to serve once a month, but to do that we will need to add over 50 people. It will also require some people to miss a church service once a month.

Hopefully, you didn’t just go from saying, “YES! WE need to do all WE can to help our guests be able to connect with Jesus!” to “Yes, YOU need to do all YOU can to help our guests connect with Jesus.” Maybe you think you are too shy/quiet. Maybe you think you can’t make such a big commitment. Maybe you think you don’t want to miss the pastor’s excellent sermon. Maybe you think you won’t know what to say or do. Maybe you think you will feel awkward. We have answers for all those concerns (and all the ones I didn’t list here). We will also provide the training you need to make you successful.

We want to find a place for you to use your giftings and personality to help build the Kingdom, by making our guests feel at home – so they can become a part of God’s family. Would you please prayerfully consider being willing to serve in this way? If you are willing to learn more about this important need, fill out the form online at

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