I could be wrong, but have this feeling that one of the most important things we’ll do as members of the church in this life… is to make others feel welcome and wanted.
I know the ordinances and covenants and everything that goes along with them is really important, but as the great apostle Paul once said, “without charity… I am nothing.”
You could be the best keeper of the rules and regulations, and at the end of the day, if you aren’t kind to others, you are nothing.
It’s not just for how we treat those that are visiting our church either, but how we treat those who have walked our halls and sat in the same meetings with us for years.
This is not a list of ways to do missionary work. It’s a list of ways to do discipleship. It’s a list of the things I believe Christ would do if he happened to be attending our ward building on any given week.
Here they are:
Be a Friend, Not A Fellow
We’ve heard the term “fellowship” in our church for as long as I can remember. Fellowship is so contrived. So coerced. So awkward. It’s like “Hey brother… I’m going to fellowship you because we talked about you in ward council and I got the assignment.”
Instead, just be friends with people. It’s not rocket science what will happen. People will stay, people will want to be around, and people will join because they have good friends. Plain and simple. Get to know people, love them, and just be their friends. You won’t need to worry about serving them… because all of that will come naturally. True friends serve each other.
Scoot Your Butt Down Instead of Sitting on The Edge of The Row and Making Someone’s Family Crawl Over You
Everyone knows those people who sit right on the end of the aisle in the church pew. There are two reasons for this. First and most frequent is to deter anyone else from sitting on that same row. The other reason is because they might have bowel or incontinence issues.
If you don’t have bowel issues, then think about scooting down on the pew to make that row look a lot more inviting to people who might be looking for a place to sit. Gosh… it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to have someone site next to you!
Find Someone Lonely To Sit By
When you walk into the chapel or other meeting hall, don’t just try and find the most isolated seat in the room. Find someone lonely, walk up, sit next to them, shake their hand, and ask them how they’re doing. Many of us cannot comprehend the loneliness that some people are going through.
Don’t Make Hardlined Statements As If You Know Everything
Nothing is more annoying and offensive than when some self-righteous member of the ward makes hard-lined statements or gives their emphatic opinion stated as a fact. Whether it’s a leader or the ward know-it-all, it usually never works out well.
Delivery is everything and you can get your point across and have people listen to you without being rigid and contentious.
Simply Smile At People
When you’re passing people in the halls, when you’re conducting a meeting, conducting the music, or teaching a class. Simply remember to smile. The gospel is supposed to make a person happy. It might be the only time someone smiles at them all week.
Don’t Ask Someone Why They Have A Beard
People that have beards are sick and tired of others coming up to them and asking them why they have a beard. They have a beard because they want to have a beard.
They don’t want to be teased that they’ve “got a little something on their face.” They don’t want to be labeled as less righteous because of their preferred method of maintaining their facial hair.
Don’t Stare At People’s Tattoos
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It’s just a tattoo. You don’t know when they got it, why they got it, or what it means to them. But if you stare at it, it’s probably going to make them feel awkward.
Don’t Ask A 19 Year Old Why They Aren’t On A Mission
People are dealing with stuff. Especially 19-year old’s. You may think you’re “just helping,” or “just concerned,” or “just curious,” but in reality, it’s most likely none of your business and it’s probably a sore subject for the person you’re asking.
It’s also really embarrassing when someone is put on the spot with a question that they can’t answer right there on the spot. It makes those 19-year old’s want to avoid you… and thus, avoid coming to church.
Don’t Ask A 19 Year Old’s Parents Why Their Kid Isn’t On A Mission
This might be worse than asking the kid why they aren’t on a mission. Stop inserting yourself into what is a very important personal and family decision. It’s not likely something that they’re dying to discuss with you, especially in public.
Take Notes During A Talk And Write The Speaker A Note
All of us have been there. We are nervous as heck in giving a talk. Then we give the talk and wonder whether or not we did a good job. Imagine how meaningful that would be for that person to get a note from you stating how much you enjoyed the talk and maybe even some details about what you learned.
I’ve had people do that for me and it means a lot.
Don’t Talk Politics
Never, never, never talk politics. It usually always breeds contention. There’s really no reason to talk about it in church. We’re there to discuss Christ and the welfare of our souls. Are you a liberal or a conservative? It doesn’t matter. I don’t think Christ is either of them. He’s somewhere in that perfect middle where love and righteousness abound.
Don’t Make Racial Slurs
You’d think this would be a given in church, but ever so often, there’s someone who doesn’t have a filter on their mouth. They leak and spew some kind of deep seeded prejudice or racism. President Hinckley said that “no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ.”
Be a friend to all races. Color should not necessitate preconceived notions or bias. The scriptures are 100% clear on this.
Don’t Joke About Homosexuality
For years, people have made jokes about homosexuality. It’s not right. I’ve watched people with my own eyes in just the last few years break down in tears because of hearing someone in the room make a joke or disparaging remark about homosexuality.
None of us truly know the details of what someone is going through and it’s important for people to be careful about the words they speak.
Don’t Categorize Those That Break The Word of Wisdom
My wife and I worked for years to get some people out to church. They were close to baptism and knew that they had a word of wisdom issue. In fact, they knew it best and hated the habit.
But one day, in a Sunday school class, the teacher and some others in the class decided to rip into people who broke the word of wisdom. It became personal instead of just stating revealed principles.
Those people listened… and didn’t come back.
Offer To Help Watch The Kids
When you see a mom dealing with a bunch of kids in church, instead of being angry because you can’t hear the speaker, get up and see if you can help with them.
Invite Someone Over For Dinner
It’s easy to invite your friends over for dinner. But what about people who normally don’t get invited to go anywhere. Look for the people who truly need a dinner with company. Look for new members of the ward who might be having trouble adjusting to their new environment.
Invite A Lonely Person To Ride With You To Church
Swing by and pick someone up for church who usually has to ride the bus or walk. Lonely people crave just a little bit of company. Walk into a nursing home just one or two times and you’ll know that’s true.
Like Their Post On Social Media
Social media can be a powerful way to show interest in and support for others. You’ve just got to use it correctly. If you got on social media and strategically liked and commented on the posts of people who truly need your encouragement, then that tool can bless others to no end.
But if you spend the time just liking pictures of celebrities and sharing cat videos, then you will have missed a great opportunity to show love and support for those you go to church with and others.
Social media is a soft way to get to know people better and it might just make them feel more comfortable coming out to church.
Positively Reinforce A Comment in Class
If someone makes a comment in class, be sure to reciprocate with some positive reinforcement or recognition. It might have taken a lot of courage to make that comment, and the last thing anyone wants is to be made to feel stupid or unimportant for making the comment.
I’ve watched teachers look at the clock, look down at their papers, look at others around the room, or literally say nothing in response to someone’s heartfelt comment. It’s a sure way to make someone really uncomfortable and unimportant.
Don’t Dominate The Sunday School Class With Your Comments
On the flip side, every ward has one or two people (you know who they are) who want to dominate the whole class with their comments (so that they can show off how smart they are). Try not to be one of those people. If no one else wants to comment, then, by all means, come to the rescue. But try and be cognizant of others who might want to participate.
Stay Away From Labels
Labels usually don’t work out well for most people. Most labels come with negative connotations and are undesirable to the people who get labeled. In-active, less-active, non-member, part-member, un-endowed, investigator, etc.
Let’s just be brother, sister, friend.
Bear A Brief and Simple Testimony of Christ During Fast And Testimony Meeting
Testimony meeting could be really awesome if people didn’t make it so dang weird.
If you’re going to bear your testimony about something gospel related, just do it naturally. Be you. Be authentic. And most of all, keep it centered on the Savior.
Have A Wireless Mic To Give Those With Disabilities The Ability To Bear Their Testimony
Some people can’t make their way to the pulpit, but they’ve got a big heart and a big testimony. Try to be aware of who those people are and make sure they’re given the opportunity to share their testimony.
Look after those that are the most afflicted and make sure they are comfortable and don’t feel cast out or ignored.
Hold The Door Open For Others
I’ll never forget the time that I was carrying my young daughter up to the back doors of the church and a man ran in front of me and grabbed the door and held it open for me with a big smile on his face while enthusiastically saying “good morning!”
That man was Elder Holland…
Stay Home If You’re Sick With Something Contagious
Taking a week off of church when you’re contagiously sick is the most Christlike thing you can do for other members of the ward during that time. Truly, it makes people not want to be in the room if you are coughing, hacking, snotting, or burning up of a fever.
Cover Your Mouth When You Cough or Sneeze
Even if you aren’t sick, but you just need to cough or sneeze, make sure to cover your mouth. This is just basic common courtesy.
Don’t Let Your Kids Be Disruptive – Even if you think it’s cute
Everyone thinks their own kids are really cute. But their noises, half-cries, whining… honestly any noise disruption that they’re making is probably not cute to the rest of the members of the class or meeting. They may give you a courtesy smile, but they’re most likely thinking to themselves, “Why don’t you take that kid out of the room.”
Unexpected noise is of course uncontrollable. A cry, a scream, a yell, or whatever else… is obviously going to happen. But letting it persist while making everyone else uncomfortable is just not cool.
Don’t Put People On The Spot
Some people don’t want to be called on to answer a question or bear their testimony. They really, really don’t want to be put on the spot. So be cognizant of who you’re calling on or asking for participation from.
Don’t Correct Others Or Try and “One Up” Their Answers
It seems like every ward has one or two of those people who just can’t wait to be able to correct others in class or in casual conversation. Don’t be a know-it-all, especially in church settings where the great majority of our spiritual lives revolves around faith and belief.
Don’t look for opportunities to exalt yourself by one-upping the person who gave an answer to a question or gave their thoughts and feelings on a particular subject. Try and add to someone else’s comment by recognizing that comment and showing that person that what they said was important.
Starting off like “I really like what so and so said about this…” is always a great way to add to comments in a class.
If You’re a Keyholder, Look For A Suitable Calling For Everyone
President Hinckley once said that everyone needs a friend, a calling, and to be nourished by the scriptures. If you’re in a position to issue that calling, make sure it’s a good fit and try to ensure that everyone can be engaged in some type of service.
Compliment The Kids Of Other People In Front of The Parents
There is nothing that people love more than when you compliment their kids. Find the good in the kids in your ward and compliment those kids in front of their parents.
Sit back and watch those parents light up!
Do you have anything to add?
Church is about community, but often, people don’t get the community aspect out of going to church because of one or many of these above reasons.
Sometimes, we don’t even know that we’re doing what we’re doing. But I think it’s one of the things we need to try the hardest on.
We’re here for each other. It’s literally how we show God that we love Him. By loving others and going out of our way to make them feel special and welcome at church.
I’d love if you had something to add to this list. In fact, maybe I’ll even update the list based on some of your comments or suggestions.