"A smile is the universal welcome." - Max Eastman
A well-timed smile is gold. It can assure someone they are welcome, open doors, and turn someone's day around. A smile is contagious, spreading simple happiness, even joy. At times, I am fairly certain it can also get you out of trouble.
I see a lot of smiling faces on Sunday at Ascension. It is a real blessing. I believe it is part of what makes us an inviting and welcoming community. Perhaps it is the underlying reason we gather, the joy of God welling up within us. I often see the welcome extend well beyond a smile. I want to affirm a few practices that will help us as we seek to encourage our guests.
If you see an unfamiliar face, introduce yourself. Sometimes we worry that the person will be a long-time member that we just haven't met yet . . . an introduction may still be in order! Introduce the guest to someone else nearby. Sit together in worship. Our way of worship can be intimidating, offer help as we balance bulletin with Prayer Book and Hymnal.
Encourage guests to complete the guest card so we can be in touch. Some take this an extra step and introduce the guest to the clergy, which we appreciate very much. Some members also invite guests to join them for lunch following the service. This truly helps us connect with those who are looking for a church! Last, but not least, pray. Pray for those who have visited, by name when possible. I hope these suggestions will help as we seek to welcome all guests visiting Ascension.