The Value of Visiting

Here’s another recommendation that’s really important when you consider the need for a sabbatical– visit other churches. As part of resting and thinking with God about direction for your church, get out and visit all kinds of churches – small, medium, large, Catholic, Presbyterian – whatever. To see and experience what’s happening in other churches is a great way to learn. You get to feel what it’s like to be a visitor. You see God moving differently than he moves at your church and in your context of what you think church is. Go and look: Is there energy? Is there life? Is there authentic community? Why? What’s making that work? 

You’ll also see things you don’t like. On my sabbatical I visited a church where I was greeted, but no one really talked to me. I was asked by an usher to leave the sanctuary with my cup of coffee, and pointing to a prominent NO FOOD OR DRINK ALLOWED sign. At the time, we had that same policy at Friends, and when I came home we changed it. In God’s economy, carpets don’t matter much. And yes, we’ve had spills, but we really don’t care – carpets can be cleaned. I never want a guest to feel the way I felt in that moment.

Visiting other churches changes the way you see your own church, and that’s hugely important. If you have one free weekend, visit 4-5 churches. Go somewhere Saturday night and somewhere else Sunday morning – you don’t have to stay for the entire service – and you’ll get a feel for culture, parking, ushers, air-conditioning, worship styles, sense of community. And you’ll come back with new energy and creativity.

One Comment on “The Value of Visiting”

  1. Thanks for this great reminder! Nothing has been more influential on my leadership than leaving my current context and visiting another.

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