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How to Buckle a Seat Belt

November 17, 2015

Following Jesus Christ as Lord is life-changing: new friends, new habits, new places you hang out. While the new found freedom in Christ is wonderful, the transition can be a bit rough, especially for those who didn’t grow up in the church.

What is the impression your campus ministry gives? Do new people feel comfortable in this new place? Or do they feel lost and awkward?

My dad was the junior high golf coach at my school, so we were able to play at our local country club for free during the golf season. I felt right at home on the putting green or the course. But when I went into the clubhouse, I felt out of place.

I was never certain of proper etiquette. I didn’t know where everything was, and I wasn’t sure what rooms were open to us common folk. Though the members were always nice to me, I never felt I fitted in.

When helping welcome new people into your ministry, use language that makes sense to our culture, not Christian-ese.

On the other hand, whenever I’m flying on a plane, I get way more info than I actually need. We are welcomed by flight attendants who orient us with the plane: the location of the exits and bathrooms, even how to put on a seat belt.

The captain tells me how high we’ll be flying, the weather forecast, and any delays. My ticket tells me where I’m coming from and where I’m going. When I get to my final destination large signs guide me to claim my bag. Not everything is perfect, but I typically feel like I know what’s going on.

Your organization doesn’t need to operate exactly like an airline (please, don’t do full body checks when people come in the doors). But we can learn a lot about the way they make people feel welcome and secure.

Airlines expect at least one passenger has never been in a plane before. At least one passenger may need to know where the exits and bathrooms are. At least one passenger may need to know how to buckle a seat belt. And because they explain procedures to the entire group, no one feels left out.

Campus ministries can be very lonely places for people new to the community; it should be the exact opposite!

Sometimes joining a new group of people can bring with it anxiety and insecurities, like riding a plane for the first time. Churches and ministries can be very lonely places for someone new to the community.

What can seem like common knowledge often isn’t, especially to people who were not raised in a Christian atmosphere. Not everyone knows when to stand, who to greet, and what to do after the service or meeting is finished.

Ministries should explain what is happening to the entire group. Make sure people know what is going on and what they need to do, even if it seems as obvious as buckling a seat belt. Teaching someone to buckle a seat belt has value in this life, but the message we share has value for both this life and the life to come.