By Brett Younger    

 

If you weren't paying attention you may have missed it, but a couple of Sundays ago, I had the privilege of instructing worshippers at Highland Hills to sign the friendship register. We pass registers as a way for members to welcome guests and learn each other's names. The process is simple. Those seated on the center aisle sign the register and pass it to the next person. The register moves to the end of the row, then back to the center so that each person sees each name. This system works well for church members, but is painfully redundant for the minister. How many times can you say, "Would those seated on the center aisle please sign the register and then pass it to the next person?" without your brain turning into leftover Wednesday night meatloaf?

 

One option is to encourage worshippers in a curious variety of ways:

            "Many people claim that Baptists are illiterate. Let's sign the worship register and prove them wrong."

            "These days, when someone asks for your name, it is usually because they want it for telemarketing purposes. We are no exception. We can make money selling your name, so please sign the friendship register."

            "Hezekiah 3:12 states: 'When thou enterest the temple of the Lord thou shalt sign the holy book.'"

 

Another option is to offer rewards for signing the register:

            "If your friendship register has a star on it, present it to Cass after the service and see if he will give you a dollar."

"The row with the most signatures can come back next Sunday for free."

"If you sat on the wrong pew by accident, this is a chance to learn some new names."

 

Some ministers are not above threatening people:

            "After you sign the register, please give us the names of those who don't so we can call and ask them what their problem is."

"Sign in, because God might not keep score, but we do."

            "Many Christian traditions believe in purgatory. If purgatory exists, no doubt there will be people there who spend extra time because they did not sign the friendship register. Even if you don't believe in purgatory-why take the chance?"

 

Perhaps it would be enough to say:

"If you don't sign the friendship register, we will start wearing nametags."