“Not enough room” is a descriptor of a situation or an environment that hinders a pathway. At church, those of us who are “regular attenders” can sometimes overlook the issues that hinder when “not enough room” makes it hard for guests to find a pathway into the church. As we approach Easter, let’s consider how we can show hospitality by our actions to make room for our Easter guests.
A Pathway to Parking
Drivers have favorite parking spaces. Favorite spots are usually the closest parking spaces to entrances. You might notice that the front door parking spaces are usually the first to be filled on a Sunday morning at your church. What if church members who do not have mobility limitations and those who do not have preschoolers begin to park in the least favored spaces further away from the entrances? What would this tell the newcomer who drives in and easily finds parking near the front door? Perhaps it says, “We have made the way easy for you to join us. We have room for you!”
If a parking area is labeled for “guests” at your church, honor that request even if you are running late. Showing hospitality by leaving closer parking spots open provides an easy pathway for first-time guests to find their way to the welcome center.
A Pathway to Seating
As with parking spaces, we also have favorite places to sit in worship. A highly-favored place is at the end of a row. There may be a valid reason for someone to sit at the end of a row. A person on the praise team needs “end-of-the-row” access to quickly return to the stage at the end of the service. A person teaching in a preschool/children’s ministry area needs to exit quickly to prepare for the arrival of the children in a classroom.
Often there are “hard-to-reach” seats that are open. What typically happens is that people sit on both ends of the row and leave the seats in the middle open. Those who enter later are never thrilled about walking over people to get to the center of a row. People are also guilty of putting extra things like Bibles, purses, or sermon notes/notebooks in the seats beside them, which also impedes the availability of seating.
This week, show hospitality by moving toward the middle of your row in worship and by making sure your extra things are safely on the floor in front of you. A bag or backpack is often helpful on Sundays to keep your family’s extra belongings from taking up available seating. Showing hospitality by making seating available for those entering after you provides an easy way to say, “We have room for you and your family.”
The Lord uses pathways to lead people to places of repentance and life change because of the Good News of the Gospel. We read in Mark 1 that John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus by announcing His arrival and preparing the people to encounter Jesus. As believers, our hospitality prepares the way and clears the pathway for those who have yet to hear about Jesus or those who have yet to connect with our churches to hear and respond to the Gospel. May God open our eyes to the needs of others and allow us to place the needs of others above our own selfish preferences.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3