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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN

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I Am A Visitor

I am a visitor and sometimes I see things you don't notice. I can appreciate things you take for granted and be repulsed by things you have learned to accept. Your building may be beautiful, your sermon inspiring, your singing outstanding, and your church perfectly aligned with the Bible, but most of the time it's not these things, but the little things that I notice.

When I walk in the door I feel like a stranger, for that's what I am. So it means a lot when someone welcomes me with a friendly greeting. I do not mean the preacher or an elder, but one of the "regular" members. It's nice when they want to know my name, and even better when they want to know me. They try to help me feel at ease. They show me where my Sunday School class meets. They introduce me to someone in my class. I make two new friends.

I like Bible classes where there is love, excitement and participation, where the people seem glad to be there. I like it when they introduce me as a visitor, when someone asks me to sit next to them, and when a person I have never met before helps me find the scriptures in my Bible.

Someone in class invited me to sit with them in the worship service. When the singing starts, I notice there is no organ, but it sounds beautiful anyway. My friend next to me is not a fantastic singer, but he sings enthusiastically, like he means what the song is saying. Everyone is participating, and the people seem to be enjoying worship. I am not used to that, but it makes me feel good.

When the preacher starts talking it impresses me that the people all start reaching for Bibles and note pads. They follow along in the Bible and seem to be really interested in what is being said, so I listen too.

After worship, I usually figure it's time to head home to my paper and TV but all the people around me make an effort to meet and welcome me. They invite me to come back and visit again. They invite me home for Sunday dinner. They want to get to know me better. All of them seem to know and love each other, and I have a hard time getting through the crowd, so I stay and talk and meet more people. The TV and paper can wait.

When I get back home again, I often forget what the building looked like or even what the sermon was about. But I can remember where I met people who loved God and each other. People who loved me. I can't wait to go back so I can find out what makes them that way!

For His Cause,
Tim Woodward