Invisible Guests

I sat by myself waiting for the church service to begin. A woman made her way toward me with her family following. 

Nodding toward the space next to me, she asked, “Are you saving that seat for your husband?” 

The sarcastic part of me wanted to quip, “Yes, but it may be awhile!” But since I’m not married, I simply smiled and said, “No.” 

Without another word, she and her family sat down. 

It was my first Sunday in a new city, and I was visiting a church that had been recommended to me. At one point in the service all visitors were asked to stand. At nearly 6 feet tall and wearing a bright turquoise outfit, I was hard to miss. After the benediction, church members gathered to visit while I stood by myself. No one approached me, spoke with me, or acknowledged my existence. I left and went to eat lunch by myself. 

What’s wrong with this picture? Everything. Unfortunately, I’ve had many other opportunities to feel unwelcome, or at the very least, invisible, when visiting churches. Consequently, I make it a point to look for people visiting my church. 
Here’s what I’m learning:

  • Pray for the visitors you hope to meet. 
  • Get to church early. 
  • Be on the lookout. 
  • Some guests may be easy to spot. Ask the Holy Spirit to direct you to the ones who are not. 
  • If you don't know guests from members, say, "I don't believe I've had the pleasure of meeting you."
  • If guests are already seated, offer to sit with them. If not, invite them to sit with you. 
  • Consider inviting them to lunch. Leave it open ended: “If you don’t have plans for lunch, we’ll be at Sonny’s BBQ at 12:30.” 
  • If appropriate, get their contact information. 
  • Say, “I’ll look for you next week.” 
  • Think. Once when I was visiting a church I asked a greeter for directions to the restroom. She obliged with no further comment. Tipoff! If someone doesn’t know the way to the restroom, you’ve got a guest on your hands. 
  • Be inclusive. Know when to visit with your friends and when to look for new ones who might be disguised as visitors.
When I moved to a new city, I received a warmer welcome at the local Toastmaster’s Club than I did at most of the churches I visited. Why? I believe it boils down to this: they enthusiastically expect guests to come, and when they do, they know how to make them feel valued. 

Obviously there’s a lot more at stake when guests walk through the doors of a church. What if the person in my opening story had been someone who woke up Sunday morning after a sin-filled Saturday night and thought, “I’ve got to get my life together. Maybe I’ll go to that church on the corner….I’m told God’s people gather there….” 

So reach out and welcome one another to God’s glory. Jesus did it; now you do it! (Romans 15:7 The Message)


  1. I think this is something every Christian can benefit from hearing. Having moved multiple times and gone through that painful process of finding a church, I understand your experience all too well. Even when churches have "greet your neighbor" time, we typically get a limp handshake, only a moment's eye contact, and no name exchange. And your suggestions are so right on. We can't expect the welcoming committee to do what each of us can do individually. Thanks for sharing this, Kim.

    1. Thanks for this confirmation, Gail--and your encouragement from experience, that we all need to be on the lookout for ways to welcome others with God's love!

  2. Great post, Kim! I'm sharing this on FB and with my pastor. We all need the reminder. :-)

    1. Thank you, Vonda, for commenting, and for sharing! I pray that God will use my experiences in the lives of others to bless and motivate!

  3. Thanks for sharing this, Kim. I've re-posted to my FB page, too. This is a great reminder about Christian fellowship. We need to be attentive always. Thanks! Piper Peters Aheron

  4. Thank you for commenting and sharing! I like your phrase "We need to be attentive always." Yes!

    I went to your website and enjoyed looking at your books! I have seen the series and considered purchasing one but have not--up to this point! I'm on the lookout now! God bless you BIG!


Each week I write a BOG (Brag On God) post. My prayer is that my words will invite you to brag on God, too. And together we'll make God smile.