A friend of mine is a flight attendant trainer. As we were talking about her role, she told me that there’s one piece of advice she gives every new employee. She tells them that every passenger has a story. They are on their way somewhere for vacation, work, to see family, to go to a funeral, or even to go to a specialist. Everyone traveling has a reason to travel and a place to be. She then tells them, “You get to be a part of that story. You can either be a good part, a bad part, or a non-factor. The choice is yours.”
I’ve thought a lot about the wisdom she gives those employees and how it applies to our churches. Every person who walks through the doors of your church has a story. Most people just don’t walk into a church out of curiosity. They come because something has happened in their life, they’ve been hurt elsewhere, or they’re looking for healing or answers. Whatever the reason, they have a story, and we get to choose how we are going to be a part of that story.
Too often people come through our doors, and we are non-factors in their lives because we don’t acknowledge their existence. They come in, they sit down, and they walk out without much more than a, “Hello! Welcome. How are ya,” from the greeters. Members don’t engage them because they’re busy talking with their friends. Pastors often don’t engage because they’re too busy. I’ve learned you can attend a church for months without anyone asking for your name or your story. I know this because I am one of these people
Church should be the place where broken people find their healing from a body of fellow believers. It’s up to us to create this kind of culture in our churches. We as church leaders can’t be a part of every person’s story that walks through our door, but we can create a culture where our people triage those who come in. We can teach them to share their story and get stories from others. We can create an atmosphere where people are open about their struggles and triumphs and care about the same in others, but it has to start with leadership
What part do you want your church to play in someone else’s story? My hope is that you want to be a good part of that story-the part where their healing begins and generations are changed. We all know the Golden Rule, but I like how The Message puts it in Matthew 7:12. It says, “Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them.” How did you want the Church to affect your story? Go and do the same for those hidden in your congregation. Their story needs you.