Every religious action of Donald Trump is being scrutinzed to see if he might actually be a Christian as he claims to be. Yesterday we caught the Donald confusing the communion plate for the offering plate and should actually be praising him for his willingness to give.
But Trump’s gaffe provides a perfect opportunity to raise a question about how we help outsiders find their way when they worship with us. Since I was not there, this is a general reminder that we do many things in church life that is just baffling to unchurched people as well as to people raised in other traditions.
Here’s my plea: Let’s become more explicit about what we are doing during our worship times. Not only will visitors appreciate it, the church will benefit from the teaching that results from this kind of instruction. Here are some of my suggestions for how this might be done.
- At the beginning of the service, explain briefly what will happen in the service.
- Before communion, explain in every day langauge what is about to happen. Since I belong to a fellowship that does communion weekly, this is a weekly opportunity to tell how communion participates in the story of Jesus.
- Before the offering, explain why the church is taking up money both fiscally and theologically. Invite visitors to give as they are moved. (Please don’t tell them they don’t have to give and that it is just for members as this short-circuits what God may be doing in their lives–they may really need to give because of where they are).
- Have attractive literature ready as a guide for newcomers and those from other church traditions so they can find their way around the facility but also through the service.
- Have hosts speically trained and available for those who might need some help finding their way. Call on the people who have the emotional sensitivity to read the comfort level of others.
- Learn to recognize and not use “insider” language that only those trained in church-ese would understand.
Ok, here are some of my suggestions to help the Donalds of the world find their way in a new church setting, perhaps you have others.
So should the Donald visit your worship gathering, make sure he can find his way easily.