Stuff Pastors Like: Out-of-State Visitors

My dad loves meatloaf; the food not the singer.  He probably doesn’t even know that there is a singer named Meat Loaf.  I’m also pretty sure that he thinks Lady Gaga is the name of a baby doll and that trying to pronounce Ke$ha would give him hives. 

Musically speaking, my dad is in a forty-year holding pattern–Merle Haggard’s Okie from Muskogee is still his favorite song.

This will probably never change and neither will his favorite food.  Meatloaf will always be #1.  He says that there is only one thing better than meatloaf: more meatloaf.

You may think that this same thing applies to one of a church’s favorite things–visitors.  You may think that the only things better than visitors are more visitors.  You may think that paragraphs like this one are overused and should be abandoned.  You are mistaken.

 The only thing better than visitors are out-of-state visitors. 

I’m not talking about out-of-state visitors who are related to church members.  Those don’t count.  I’m talking about out-of-state visitors without any connection to anyone in your church who show up out of the blue like David Blaine did in one of my dreams.  Yes, it was terrible.  No, I don’t want to talk about it.

Here are four reasons why out-of-state visitors make me react like I’ve just seen Blake Griffin dunk over a double rainbow:

1. They quiet the naysayers.  The first church that I pastored was on a dead-end road where a serial killer had once discarded a couple of his victims.  Seriously.  I was told on numerous occasions that our church would never grow because visitors couldn’t find us.  When we had visitors from Michigan show up, this excuse went out the window.  The serial-killer-dumped-bodies-there excuse was still valid, though.

2.  They are more likely to give honest feedback. Because they will probably never see me again, there is a greater likelihood that they will not hesitate to tell me that the way I said worship (WAR-ship) during the sermon made them want to walk down the aisle and punch me in the throat. Confession: I’m a sucker for good, honest, violent feedback.

3.  They give your church false bragging rights. “Oh–you’re church’s service today was full of the Spirit and your pastor’s sermon rivaled anything Jonathan Edwards ever preached? Big Deal! We had people visit our church from North Dakota! And there were four of them, so essentially we had half of that state’s population worshipping with us. BOO-YAH!”

4. They reveal if you church is as friendly as you claim. You want regular visitors to return which means that you treat them with kindness and generosity, even in the parking lot. There really isn’t any incentive to treat out-of-state visitors with the same consideration. Clip them with your car mirror or not; they’re not coming back either way.

There are more reasons than this for why out-of-state visitors are so awesome, but I really need to stop and get to work on saying worship correctly. I don’t need any more throat punches.

What are some other reasons why out-of-state visitors are so awesome?
What other things do pastors do that makes you want to punch them in the throat (with love)?



21 thoughts on “Stuff Pastors Like: Out-of-State Visitors

  1. Any pastor who dares preach on giving or against drinking.could expect a punch in the throat. Talk about anything but giving and the pastor is a good guy. But when i was quite a bit younger (and brasher and cockier), I once preached against drinking, even social drinking, using I Cor.8 as my text. One man, known to be an imbiber, made a threat those around him heard: “I’d like to punch you in the throat.” So I walked out with a protective piece of armor around my neck from that point on. Strangest tie anyone ever saw.

  2. This is fun. You are right, there is something fun about out of state visitors, unless you really like them, and they really like you. Then all you can say is something like, “I’ll see you in Heaven!” because you know you probably won’t see them on earth again.

  3. Out of state visitors are awesome in New York, because they see that we are just as rude in the church as in the street. We still fight for the best parking spot outside of the church and if necessary, roll our sleeves. 🙂

    Pastors make me want to punch them when they preach on legalism instead of truth.

  4. This was awesome. Unfortunately these days, out-of-state visitors aren’t quite the unicorn spotting delight that they once were with the ubiquity of church websites. Wait, that might be a great idea for you to write about.

    When looking for a new church not too long ago, I judged churches solely on the basis of their website. Designed in front page with MS clip art? Full of old, smelly people. Flash animation and bright colors? The pastor wears deep v-necks and the worship leader’s jeans are tighter than my 9 year old sister’s.

    Only thing is that the more dramatic the website was one way or the other, the church usually ended up being the opposite.

  5. This will probably get me punched in the throat, but I can’t stand when pastors talk about how we need to impact our city, how we need to think beyond the church walls and be Jesus to people, but the “call to action” is to invite people to church the next Sunday instead of challenging people to pray with coworkers or start a bible study at their workplace/school, etc.

    Please don’t throat punch me!

    • No throat punch from me. It seems that we build people toward one thing and then call them to do something that doesn’t match up to it. Thanks for sharing.
      Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

  6. When we went to Hawaii last year, we researched churches online. We settled on one and went to it one Sunday morning.

    It was in a tiny room with about ten folding chairs. They were astounded we were not only at the right place, but had actually picked them over other churches. Made us feel like rock stars.

  7. I will tell you what impressed me. One time we visited a church in Myrtle Beach, SC. I met one of the staff and told them that I enjoyed the service. I didn’t fill anything out and I don’t remember telling her my name. Later that day she found me on Facebook and thanked me for coming. That was impressive. She didn’t have to do that since I wasn’t coming back.

  8. I doubt anyone would dare throat-punch you, Matt! On account of you being 6’7″ and all. What would be really funny is you preaching a controversial message seated behind the pulpit. Let ’em get good and riled, and then stand up like Richard Kiel (make sure and put your steel teeth in)


  9. I like out-of-state visitors because you can spot them from a mile away. I’m in charge of First Impressions at our church (aka greeters, ushers, etc) so it’s my job every Sunday to take notice.

    Pastors who glorify moms on Mother’s Day and deliver a leg sweep to dads on Father’s Day can expect a visit from the West Coast Ninjas.

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