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— By Richard Merritt

I used to say our church members had no right to sit down until they had greeted at least five people. I haven’t said that in a few years.

We have learned a few lessons about being friendly. A smile, handshake or a nod always sends the message we are glad to see others, both members and visitors alike.

A friendly church has good fellowship, is in one accord and agrees on the doctrines of the Bible.

A good music program always helps turn our attention to godly things. I love to hear the songs that express great truths and the prayers our church members pray.

Some prayers are like meandering sermons – they go on and on as if there is no end in sight.

I love friendly churches. “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24 KJV).

When Ruth was a stranger in a strange land trying to support herself and her mother-in-;aw, she found a friend in Boaz, a godly man that appreciated her work ethic and desired to help her.

She was thankful and told him so.

“Then she said, Let me find favour in thy sight, my lord; for that thou hast comforted me, and for that thou hast spoken friendly unto thine handmaid, though I be not like unto one of thine handmaidens.” (Ruth 2:13 KJV). Boaz was friendly to a stranger.

Friendly words, comforting words and encouraging words go a long way to make a connection in our world where so many people are hurting, struggling or worrying. God’s people can make lifelong friends within the church family.

“Thine own friend, and thy father’s friend, forsake not; neither go into thy brother’s house in the day of thy calamity: for better is a neighbour that is near than a brother far off.” (Proverbs 27:10 KJV)

New members in a church should not lack friends. Someone should always be ready to say sit with me, go to class with me or be ready to answer any questions a new member might have.

I love to have conversations with the young people in our church.

They need to know their pastor cares for them and prays for them.

Young people will always remember that you have time for them and are interested in them.

When I was a child at the church, I pastored an elderly lady loved to bring candy corn wrapped in a frilly handkerchief.

We all knew where she sat and that she had something for us. A friendly church reaches across all generations to enjoy the gift of each other’s presence.

A friendly church is a caring church. Jesus said:

“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:34, 35 KJV)

A true church can be identified by the love and friendliness manifested toward each other and to visitors.

A church that leaves its love for Christ soon loses its love for one another. Jesus rebuked the church at Ephesus for their lack of love for Him.

“Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” (Revelation 2:4 KJV)

Those that are in search for a church will be concerned about the truths that are preached and taught, but it is the friendliness that brings them back to the same house of God.

That special kind of friendliness exhibited by God’s people assures you that you have come to a church where God’s presence is. Moses’ invitation to his father-in-law was “come thou with us, and we will do thee good.” (Numbers 10:29)

If you are looking for a friendly church, we will show ourselves friendly.

Try Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, I’m sure you’ll like it.

(Merritt is the pastor at Trinity Missionary Baptist Church.)

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