Have you ever wondered, as you pull away from the church, what the pastor and his wife are saying about you? What did the people of the church think of you and your family? This is not something we want to dwell on, of course, but I’m sure it’s crossed each of our minds at some point.
On deputation, we often visit a church just one time and for only a few hours. This is the only chance we get to leave a lasting impression- whether good or bad. We all want to be remembered in the best way possible.
The Lord has given me some awesome mentors in my life, and I would love to share some tips that I have learned from these ladies. It has helped me so much as we travel and meet new people. I hope it will be a help to you as well.
LOOK YOUR BEST.
- Simple, but so important. Try to look in a mirror before going into the church, or slip in the bathroom first thing. Freshen up before the Sunday evening service, too.
- SMILE!!!! It may seem silly that smiling should be on this list, but we all know those days come. You know, the “I dropped the cereal I was feeding to my son in the car, and I can’t bend over my huge pregnant belly to pick it up, so I’m just going to cry” morning. Yes, that is speaking from experience, but really, we all have bad days, and those seem to come most often on Sundays and Wednesdays. It’s days like these, that I have to tell myself to smile.
- Make sure your children look nice too. For the first 6 months, my son spit up everything. It was a terrible mess, and stinky!! I started packing 5 or more outfits for him for Sundays, so that he wouldn’t be a smelly mess. We also used blankets instead of burp cloths to cut down on how much he got on me (or anyone else holding him). Simply try to keep everyone looking as nice as possible!!
DON’T SIT DOWN.
- We walk into the church and get our display set up, and then what? It is so easy to simply sit down and wait for the service to begin; maybe talk to those sitting around us, but this is a trap!! Don’t sit down, yet! Place your Bible and purse where you plan to sit, and then turn around, and find someone. There may not even be someone there yet, but don’t sit down. They will come and when they come in, they will be thrilled to see your smiling face, and welcome your handshake.
TALK WITH PEOPLE.
- Make it your goal to speak with everyone in the church. Depending on the size of the church, this may not be possible, but do your best to shake everyone’s hand and introduce yourself.
- Ask questions, listen, and be interested in their response. What do you talk about with a stranger? A few of my go-to questions are, “How long have you been coming to church here?” “Are you from this area originally?” “Do you have family close by?” And you can never go wrong with a compliment: “I love those shoes! Where did you get them?”
- Don’t complain or say anything negative- EVER!! Remember Philippians 4:8 and think on the things that are true, honest, just, pure, and lovely.
LISTEN AND BE ATTENTIVE IN THE SERVICE.
- Yes, this is the 30th time you’ve heard this message from your husband, but people are watching you. I never realized this myself until a retired preacher told me that he enjoyed Will’s sermon much more when he saw that I was enjoying it!
BE A HELP.
- We are often asked to a pastor’s house for dinner or a lunch in the church fellowship hall. After the meal, help clean up. Grab some plates, help with dishes, or sweep the floor. If you ask for something to do, you will most often get the reply, “Don’t worry, we got it. You sit down and relax.” Ask instead for a specific task: “Where is a broom?” or “Can I get an extra cloth to help with the tables?”
When we first started deputation, I was terrified. I would have considered myself an introvert, and to do these things was very much out of my comfort zone. Now, however, I look forward to going to a new church, and meeting new people. I enjoy talking with them and learning about them! I’m sure you will too!!