All churches think themselves to be friendly. Just ask them and they will tell you! But being friendly to each other is not the same thing as being friendly to guests and newcomers.
Last year my family and I stopped to worship with a church while on vacation. The foyer was abuzz with activity, warm greetings, handshakes and hugs- except for us. There we stood and for quite some time- me, my wife, our two kids (both under four) and my mother-in-law. No one- not exaggerating here- even acknowledged our presence. Finally I grabbed a guy by the arm and asked where our kids should attend Bible class- and he did not know! Yet, if I were to ask someone from this church if they were a friendly bunch the answer would be in the affirmative.
Then there was this church my sister visited with her husband in their community. They approached a glass door which to them seemed to be the main entrance, but it was locked. They knocked and saw people turn to see them through the door, but no one came. They knocked again and were about to search out another entrance when finally someone- with great effort- came and unlocked the door. The first words from this person were not of welcome. My sister and her husband were asked why they tried to come in that door since it was never used. Do you think they ever returned there?
I have a friendlness test for churches- Will members give up their favorite pew for a guest? Once while being the guest speaker at a church, I was actually asked to get up because I was sitting in someone’s spot on the pew!
When guests come into our midst we should never assume they know anything about our church culture and where they need to be and when. We should be extremely sensitive to their needs and help make their worship experience as easy and stress-free as possible from the moment they park their car until the last “amen” is said.
I already know the answer if I were to ask your church if it is friendly. What I really want to know is- will you give up your pew for me?