Almost every Sunday, I encourage New Lifers to find someone they have never met and introduce themselves. It is probably the most important thing we do as a church family besides the Sacraments and the Scriptures. A few Sundays ago, a New Lifer turned around and met a man for the first time and probably saved his life.
This man had planned to take his own life by driving off a cliff later in the day, but decided to come to New Life beforehand to give God one more chance. When the New Lifer met him at the end of the gathering, he was obviously distraught. Instead of ignoring the man’s pain, the New Lifer prayed with him and introduced him to one of our pastors who took him to an office and met with him for about 90 minutes.
He was a totally different person after that time and assured us he was content to live now and would resume seeing his therapist, which he did, because we checked. All of this, because a New Lifer turned and said hello. Sometimes ministry to people is so simple – look at them, listen to them and care about their stories.
Several times in Paul’s letters to the churches, he encouraged them to greet one another with a holy kiss. The kissing part does not go over so well in Colorado, but the greeting part sure does. If church is an assembly of believers who belong to the same family, then sincere greetings should be a big part of the family gatherings every week. If not, we will become the cold “sit, listen and leave” church.
Not every handshake and introduction will save a life, but every close friend I have today started with one of us introducing ourselves and asking some questions. For some, this is super scary, for others it is not. No matter the nervousness, it is a powerful part of the local church becoming a close family and is proof to a distraught world that there is a place for them in God’s healing home.