When people visit church for the first time (or first few times) we should not be overly concerned if they find the experience strange. In fact it is to be expected that they won’t feel too comfortable. They are after all seeing and hearing things of which they are not familiar; ideas they do not agree with; concepts they do not fully grasp.
Understandably, they will probably feel like they have entered another dimension – because in a sense that is the case. They are among a people who belong to another kingdom seeking to worship their king. It would seem a little odd if in this ‘alien’ environment they felt completely at home, no questions asked.
Is it possible that a lot of churches today confuse the idea of making people feel welcome with making them feel comfortable? By all means, every church should be welcoming; every regular attendee should make an effort to be friendly toward visitors. But this is not the same thing as removing from the service anything which may challenge or unsettle. The Bible is clear that the gospel is both offensive and foolish to the unconverted on a number of levels (1 Cor 1:18-30).
• The message of sin offends the pride of the unconverted
• The message of unworthiness and inability offends the self-sufficiency of the unconverted
• The message of the cross and the resurrection offends the rationale of the unconverted
• The message of judgment offends the hope of the unconverted
As Christians gathering on the Lord’s Day, our priority is to worship God in Spirit and in truth not to ensure that unbelievers have a pleasant experience.
If you are visiting with us we welcome you in the name of Jesus Christ. We are delighted to have you here and hope to see you again. Our desire is to minister to you truths which may initially surprise, shock and offend, yet it is through such truths that you can discover the love, mercy and grace of almighty God.