Imagine you are standing in the car park trying to decide whether to go through the door— or not.

If you have been a church member for some years, it can be daunting. If you are not familiar with churches at all, it is an even bigger step.

That is why the sides-people have a really important job. The first thing people need to see coming through the door is a warm smile.

People are sometimes afraid of saying the wrong thing.

“Hello! Lovely to see you! Is this your first time here?” you ask with a smile, only to get the cool reply, “I’ve actually been coming every week since the end of Covid.”

A better question is probably, “Have we met?” You really can’t go wrong with that.

Everybody thinks their church is really welcoming to new people. But it might not be. A good test would be to ask, “How many people, at the end of the service, look round and try to identify people who have been coming for a very short time in order to welcome them.”

If you are here for the first time, and end up standing in the lounge with a cup of coffee and no one speaking to you, we have failed. That really should not happen. But we would be mad to think it never did. We can all get caught up in our conversations.

In that case, please feel free to come up to someone and say, “Can I say, ‘Hello’?” It is a good question to ask of someone you don’t know.

You will always get a friendly response.