I have found that we have many non-members who attend regularly, but we have no idea who they are. Some of these people slip in just before the sermon and sometimes exit before the benediction. Also, with a multiethnic congregation it has been difficult for members to become acquainted with each other cross-culturally. At our recent evangelism seminar, we had everyone register for our drawings and then turn in numbered coupons on Sabbath for a number of gift drawings. We had about 20 individuals register that none of our leaders knew.
So we have instituted a program to get acquainted.
1. We have made up name tags for each person who attends. Children along with adults. These tags are kept in a storage bin with drawers labeled with sections of the alphabet. The greeters encourage and help all who attend to find their name tag and /or make up a stick-on tag if they are a visitor. If we have no name tag and they attend often we will make up a tag by the following Sabbath. This has also helped with getting the correct spelling of everyone’s name.
2. Each week we encourage all members to greet each other and to especially get acquainted with someone they do not know well.
3. Elders are given a list of all attending individuals each week and are asked to check off who is in attendance. If there is someone they do not recognize, they make sure they greet them following the service and get acquainted and then write their name on the bottom of the list. This also helps our leaders to know who is missing especially if they have missed for some time.
4. As Pastor, I not only greet these individuals who are not official members, but visit with them to find out where they are at in their walk with Jesus.
One person, who has attended for several years, that we had never gotten acquainted with, told the greeter that he would not wear a stick-on name tag, but would wait until an official name tag was printed. The greeter notified me and as I visited with him, I learned that he was scheduled to be baptized the week before he left his home country of Kenya, but some how this had not happened. He had attended our church for two years, slipping in and out. When I invited him to be baptized, he responded that he was going to talk to me about this but had never gotten around to asking. His baptism is now scheduled for Dec. 17.
I have found that the members are happy to finally be getting acquainted. Members have stated that because some names are difficult to pronounce that they were embarrassed to speak to someone they didn’t know. With the name tags, members are excited to speak to someone they do not know or someone that they do not remember their name from one week to the next.
—Marvin Humbert (MarvinHumbert@comcast.net), Pastor, Federal Way Adventist Church (WA Conf)