It has been said before by a few others but it is true, the first two minutes matter most. If you regularly attend a worship service on Sundays, what do you initially do when the service ends? How do you spend those important first two minutes? Maybe you focus on collecting your belongings. Maybe you stand up and begin talking with the people sitting around you, the same people who sit by you every single week. Maybe you get up and go find your children who are in the nursery or in junior church. Or maybe you seek out your good friends to catch up and talk about your plans for the rest of the day. But how many of us, in those first two minutes, seek out the new people who you noticed were visiting your church for the first time? Or how many of us make a point to introduce ourselves to some others in the church which we haven't yet met? For those people new to your church, the first two minutes after the service matter the most.
In those first two minutes the guests in your worship service will feel a bit awkward, wondering what they should do. Will anyone introduce themselves to them? Or will this church force the new people to do all the work to get to know others themselves? They will decide whether or not your church is friendly by whether or not people in your church introduce themselves to them and seek to get to know them. Maybe they have come to your church for the first time because something heartbreaking happened to them recently? Will they find comfort and encouragement from your church? That depends on what happens in the first two minutes following the service. Maybe they are interested in finding out more information about your church. Will you welcome them and offer to provide the information they are looking for? If it isn't offered in the first two minutes they probably won't stick around much longer to seek it out for themselves.
Oh, you say, well, that's the pastor's job to seek out and welcome the new people. Yes, of course, the pastor should set a good example and lead his congregation in welcoming others. But he is just one man. There may be several guests on a Sunday morning. Also in those first two minutes, the pastor is usually surrounded by people who have been waiting to talk with him or who have concerns they'd like to share. Quite often, the pastor just isn't as free to be the first one to greet those new folks. Besides, they have already been listening to the pastor talk to them through his sermon for the past half-hour, they might be better served by talking with someone else in the congregation in those first two minutes.
It has been encouraging here at Stanton Evangelical Free Church the past few months to have some new people join us for worship. If you are a part of Stanton Evangelical Free Church I'd like to ask you, have you been able to introduce yourself to these folks who have recently begun attending? Have you made it a point to welcome them? Do they know your name? Do you know theirs? And the names of their kids? Is there anyone who has been attending, which you haven't introduced yourself to yet? Far too often we just get stuck in our normal routines of talking with the same people in the first two minutes after the worship service and we miss our chance to seek out those we haven't yet met. We might say to ourselves, well, maybe next week. But if we do not intentionally plan on taking advantage of those first two minutes, it probably won't happen, in fact it probably will never happen.
The first two minutes matter most. Brothers and sisters, let's make it a point this week and every week to seek out those people in our worship services whom we may not know so well. Let's greet them, let's seek to get to know them, let's share the love of Christ with them. The friends that we talk to every week will most assuredly stay around so that we'll still have the opportunity to catch up with them a bit later. Let's not let those first two minutes slip by.