When I wrote about including a feature on church websites that allows guests to indicate they're coming, I received this response:
"Everyone who is new to church would like to be greeted. It seems a very strange question to ask a newcomer if they would like to be greeted."
I didn't (and don't) agree with this. I replied:
"I don't think we can assume that everyone who comes wants to be greeted. Some people just want to sit up the back and not speak with anyone. At least for the first visit, and maybe longer, they would prefer to fly under the radar."
It's not that we should ignore people, but there's various reasons why people might not want to receive an eager, extended welcome to church. One reader reflected on this being his experience:
"I remember doing my best to remain an anonymous figure in the back row. I wanted to check it out and then bolt afterward! I was quite terrified of a conversation because my personal life was in a mess. I had no job and nothing to really make small-talk about."
This is precisely the type of person I was thinking about. At Church by the Bridge, we make it clear in a poster outside church (displayed on rotation in our noticeboard) that this is ok: