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When you're new at South Side...
Published October 09, 2018
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One of the scariest things to do on a Sunday morning is visit a church. It can feel like you're walking into a family reunion where you don't know anyone. I grew up in the church, have worked in the church for years, and I STILL get a little nervous when I visit a new church. 


There's people who already know everyone...but you.
There's songs that everyone knows...but you.
There's a routine that everyone is aware of...but you.
There are children's ministry workers that have everyone's trust...but you. You get the picture...


At South Side we continually try to make guests feel as welcome as possible, and there are two primary scenarios where that's accomplished.

Scenario #1
The BEST WAY for someone to feel welcome is for them to meet friendly people. I know introducing yourself can be scary, but look for someone each week you don't know. (Here's a little secret - even leaders in our church are sometimes anxious when meeting new people. Your hospitality encourages leaders to do the same.) 


At the end of the day, someone is more likely to have a good experience if they are introduced to someone who shows them genuine kindness and hospitality.


Scenario #2
We also realize there are times when it may be harder for people to meet someone. Perhaps they've come late or leave early. That's when our Connection Card can provide a way for new guests to choose to identify themselves. (Key words there..."choose to." Many times guests prefer to slip in and slip out and remain anonymous. In that case, see scenario #1 above.)

We're currently trying something new with our Connection Cards because this tool can serve as a powerful on ramp to ministry at South Side. This quarter we're honoring any first time guests by donating $5 to a ministry of their choice. When we receive their email address, we'll provide a list of mission partners that they can designate for this donation. This quarter, Inner City Mission, Christ Church Albany, and CMF are all presented as options for a new guest to select. (For a list of all of our mission partners, click here.)


This does a few important things:

  • It communicates South Side's commitment to missions and gets them involved in missions right away
  • It models generosity
  • It opens up a communication channel between guests and our pastoral staff


If you're regular to South Side, you may grow tired of the attention we draw to the Connection Card. Remember that someone is hearing this information every week for the very first time.


Aside from the donation to our missions partners, you may be interested to know the other regular follow-up that continually happens behind the scenes. For over a year, every guest that attends South Side recieves:

  • A personal visit from one of our elders thanking them for visiting while providing a popcorn treat bag with some more information about South Side
  • A personal note from one of our staff members to see if there any additional ways we can care for the guest and their family
  • An invitation to Starting Point where they'll have the chance to hear more about our mission as a church


All of this is fueled by an intense desire to guide everyday people into a Christ-following family. That is our mission at South Side. 


Whether it's helping in scenario #1 by introducing yourself to people you don't know, or perhaps it's praying for the followup that happens with guests every week through scenario #2, I hope and pray that you'll join us on this journey as we desire to see our church grow for God's glory.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Daniel is a lover of details which makes him a perfect fit for his job. He is also a husband and father of two girls which makes him thankful for his job.
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