I grew up in Louisiana where people generally are friendly and still wave at one another when they pass on the highway. It is not uncommon for strangers to strike up conversations in the supermarket or at the post office. In most Louisiana kitchens, there is always food cooking on the stove or something homemade to eat in the fridge. It is a culture centered around family, friends and food. I wish local churches looked more like Louisiana, minus the bugs, heat and humidity.
I believe one of the most effective things we can do as followers of Christ is to be friendly to the people we meet, both inside the church and certainly outside the church. I am finding that most people don’t care about a crabby person’s theology or want to talk about Jesus with someone who never smiles. Why can’t we be friendly first and bible experts second?
As a pastor, I hear lots of compliments and some criticism. I don’t lose a lot of sleep over most of the criticism except when I hear that someone has not been friendly to a guest or to a fellow member. There is no excuse for being rude. Maybe, I am old school or just have too much Southern still in me, but I have a low tolerance for people who don’t care about other people.
Being friendly does not require a lot of formal education, but it does require basic training. We need to be taught good manners because we are not born with them, at least I was not. Here are some general rules for being friendly:
1. Look at the person and not around the person
2. Listen to them
3. Don’t appear in a hurry
4. Ask them questions
What is your name?
Where do you live?
How is your family?
What do you do for fun?
How can I serve you?
These are the basic requirements for graduating Friendly School, but if you want an advanced degree, here are the course requirements:
1. Invite someone to your house for a home cooked meal.
2. Ask a stranger to sit with you and your family or friends at church.
3. Personally take a guest to the right room on campus and don’t point in the general direction.
4. Remember a stranger’s name when you see them next.
5. Greet the kids in the family not just the adults.
Please help your pastor sleep better at night and remember that being friendly can mean the difference between someone following Christ or not. We are Christ’s Ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. Practice being friendly in the mirror and don’t leave home until you get it right.