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)?