Jeremy Pierce at Parableman has responded/elaborated on my post about Tim Keller and advertising at Redeemer with a post called Singling Out Newcomers in Church.
He talks about how some of the things we do to make visitors feel welcome in churches are often counterproductive. I had said that Christians tend to like being recognized when they visit other churches, while non-Christians do not. He says that there may be some non-Christians who don't mind it, and there are some Christians who do.
I am with him on this. When I visit another church, unless it is one of my former churches where I have lots of good friends I want to see, I really want to be able to blend into the background. Of course, I appreciate the normal human kindnesses when brothers and sisters quietly say hello and welcome me. But anything beyond that is sure to make me run. I feel exactly the same way as Jeremy does when he says:
Extroverted Christians might like that, but if I visit a church and they do something like that I tend to get really turned off. I don't like to be made the center of attention (unless I'm doing something specifically requiring it like teaching, in which case I then won't want people not paying attention).
I am with him completely - when I am functioning in my leadership role I want people to pay attention to me, not so much to me, but to the Word of God that I am speaking. But other than that, I don't want to be singled out.
We were on vacation one time and went to a show where they asked for volunteers from the audience. The kids pointed to me and made a big deal and the guy saw them and made me come up on stage. I went along with it and smiled for the sake of my kids, but it really was a miserable experience which I hope never to repeat.
Another thing came to mind in that regard. We have a very dear older brother in Christ at our church who will be moving soon. I e-mailed him that we would miss him and give him a big send-off but he e-mailed me back and implored me not to do that - he wants to leave quietly and say his goodbyes without a lot of fanfare.
Those are just anecdotes and don't prove much. Some people don't mind that kind of attention. But Jeremy is right and we need to be careful not to let our attempts to welcome people be the thing that drives them off.
He's also got some good words for those who complain about a lack of attention at churches.