First Impressions

I remember it like it was yesterday. Andrea and I were driving from South Florida out to Texas where I was to begin Bible school. Before embarking upon the journey, we had been contacted by the Deacon of Missions from a congregation in a town I had never heard of in North Florida. Since we were headed to Texas, he invited us to make a stop along the way as an opportunity to introduce ourselves to one another. We stopped in on a Wednesday night, arriving at the church building around 6:00 pm. The parking lot was empty, but someone was standing in the foyer. As I was walking in, he gave me a big smile and extended his hand out, saying, “Welcome!” “Hi there!” I replied, “Are you Ed Temple?” “No, sir. But, I am his dad, John Temple.” That was my very first impression of Margaret Street church of Christ. That was July of 2007. John was very cordial and throughout the evening, many people greeted us. Most everyone engaged us in conversation. There were smiles everywhere, everyone was very friendly, … and there were lots of children! Lots and lots of children! It was a most pleasant experience. Our first impression of Margaret Street has had a lasting impact on Andrea and myself. Do you remember that old saying, “You only get one chance at first impressions”? In whatever situation it may arise, it is important to make a good first impression because a bad one can be extremely difficult to undo.

Have you ever visited a church in some other town? What was that first impression like? Did you feel welcome? Were they smiling and friendly? Or, did it feel as if you weren’t even there because no one really spoke to you or showed any interest in you? How do you think visitors might feel when they first encounter Margaret Street? Do you realize that the first impressions occur long before they ever sit down in a pew, before the first song is sung, or the the preacher welcomes “Our honored guests” from the pulpit? First impressions might begin with an invitation from one of our members at the supermarket, the post office, or a friendly chat with a neighbor. First impressions may begin with a Google search that leads them to our website. It may begin when they enter the parking lot and they look at our facilities. First impressions certainly begin when they enter the doors to the foyer.

Are our visitors being greeted immediately with a smile and a handshake? Are the being informed as to what classes we offer, where the nursery or bathrooms are located, or what times we will be having worship? Visitors make decisions within those first few minutes as to whether or not they are going to stay or return. Are we giving them a reason to stay and return? Those first impressions do not end when the visitor leaves the building. Did anyone follow up with a visit, a phone call, or a card letting them know how thankful we were they chose to visit us? Unfortunately, if a visitor’s first impression is not positive, they will not likely return. First impressions are so very important because people’s souls are very important. If a visitor returns, it’s because we made them feel important. If they keep coming, they will hear more and more how important they are to God and how important their soul is in need of salvation. Let us all strive to make sure we always give a good, first impression … it may just help save someone’s soul!