Welcome Home

Welcome Home! Making others feel like family. 


Imagine you invited guests to your home for dinner. How would you prepare? 


You’d probably make sure your carpets were vacuumed or hard floors were mopped, bathrooms were sanitized and front porch swept. You’d prepare your signature dish as a meal to impress, with the dinner table set with your finest linens and silverware.


When your guests arrived, you’d greet them at the front door with a smile, maybe a handshake or hug (depending on how well you know them). You’d be on your best behavior and be as friendly as can be. If you liked them well enough, the guests could stay after dinner for conversation and even a quick game. Then as they leave, you’d walk them out and make sure they’d got home safely.


The idea is simple: If you come to our home, you will be treated with the utmost respect and care. We will give you the warmest of welcomes, and you will be so glad to have stopped by.


But does this idea translate to when guests arrive at our church? Do we treat those visiting our spiritual household the same way? 


Think about it: We are inviting guests into our spiritual house and they are visiting our spiritual family. So, how do we prepare for them?


I’ll be honest; this isn’t an original thought. I learned this mindset from a church pastor and connections expert named Danny Franks. He suggests that we (as a church) “do everything we can to take outsiders and make them feel like family from the very first visit.”


At Harvest, we aspire to do just that. 


So, what would it look like if we made every effort to have guests feel like family in each area of our congregations? From our worship gatherings to our small groups, how can we be a welcoming and hospitable church?


For one, we want to show the love of Christ to each person who walks into our facilities, our homes and our events. Think about the kindness of Jesus and how He brought us into His own family. As Romans 15:7 (ESV) suggests, we “welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” Not only that, but we do it willingly and happily. The Apostle Peter writes in 1 Peter 4:9 (CSB) that we are to “be hospitable to one another without complaining.”


Furthermore, first impressions matter. In fact, guests will often decide whether to be a part of Harvest by how friendly and welcoming we are to them. 


Charles Arn, a Christian professor, says, “The typical guest in a typical church will decide whether or not to return within the first 10 minutes.” At least in the context of the Sunday morning worship gathering, that means a guest will decide whether to return before the worship setlist is over and the sermon has even started. 


In other words, the parking lot is just as critical as the pew. (Let’s be real; we aren’t using pews anymore. It just sounds catchier that way).


With that in mind, how we handle the front door of our church will help create a bridge to the gospel. We become a stumbling block if we don’t handle that front door well. Therefore, I’d encourage each of you to “make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle” in the way of a guest (Romans 14:13 NIV).


In light of all this, we at Harvest sincerely want to make it our goal to be the friendliest church in Central Florida. Why? Because our guest experience matters and serves as that bridge to Jesus. 


If we desire to be a place where people are helping people follow Jesus, then our guest experience is a critical aspect of the life of our church. And it will take all of us — not just our Guest Services and Next Steps teams, although they play their part too.


So, I invite you to participate in this regularly and continuously. Be hospitable. Welcome those new to our church and treat them like family. Your friendliness can make an eternal difference!


Written By:  Danny Hauser