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What I Learned From Andrew's First Day of School

Today was the first day of school for our oldest son, Andrew.  As we awakened early this morning to get him ready, Maria and I were frantically checking the clock to make sure we had plenty of time to get him there.  We made sure that our cameras were ready for some great picture taking opportunities, and I had made a special breakfast consisting of monster truck pancakes with bacon-striped rims on the tires.  Needless to say, Andrew thoroughly enjoyed the pancakes and responded by exclaiming excitedly, "Dad, I just knew that you would make me monster truck pancakes on my first day of school!"  Poor Joshua wasn't too sure as to what was going on and our dog, Reeses was trying to get us to go back to bed!  The whole first part of our morning was quite an example of organized chaos (If you can consider my lack of organization, organization at all!)

Then came the car ride... The morning was beautiful as the comfortable breeze met my face while I was driving just a tad over the speed limit (Hey, I was going with the flow of traffic).  We managed to get to town a bit earlier than expected, so I thought we would take the long way to Andrew's school.  All the way there, Andrew continued to ask quite incessantly, "Daddy, this isn't the way to my new school, is it?"  After reassuring him several times that we were going to get him to school, he recognized the glare of the sun off of one of the playground toys just outside his new school room, and excitedly shouted "There's my school!"  We then proceeded to enter the parking lot where there were several other families, looking as though they had all been at our house earlier in the morning, and had eaten monster truck pancakes with bacon-striped wheels.  They were all making the journey to the pre-k doors, just as we were and a sigh of relief entered my heart as I thought to myself, "this is going to be okay".

As we entered through the doors of the school, we were greeted by Andrew's principal and teachers.  Their smiles seemed genuine and offered a great deal of comfort to all of us parents leaving our little ones behind for the first time.  They offered to answer questions and reassured all the parents that things were going to be just fine.  Maria and I were relieved to see Andrew smile as he waved goodbye to us, and then grasping the toy tractor he proceeded to play on the floor with his new friends. 

So, what have I learned from all of this?  One thing comes to mind very clearly... First Impressions Are Everything!  As we were standing amidst the rush of excited children playing with new toys, and anxious parents working hard not to succumb to the emotions of their child's first day of school, I wondered what first-time visitors feel when they come into a church.  More importantly, I wondered how the church responds to such needs... If we are even aware of them!  First Impressions Are Everything!  As the body of Christ, we need to be welcoming, inviting, warm, encouraging, and calming.  Just as these teachers and principal welcomed us with open arms, and inviting presence, our churches need to be just as warm and inviting.  When somebody new graces the entrance of our building, it is my prayer that we would extend what Bishop Robert Schnase recommends in his book Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations, which is the act of Extravagant Hospitality - Going out of our way to make someone else feel comfortable.  Will you give it a try?  I know I will!

Peace,
   Aaron

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