From time to time (or maybe every week), new people darken the doors of your church. Some of them haven't ever been in a church before; some of them haven't ever been in the church you attend before. Either way, the way you refer to them matters. Language is important.

"Visitors" are just passing through. You never expect visitors to stay long; they're only visiting. You "visit" a place, and then leave. Sometimes you come back, but even then it's only usually as a visitor. Visitors are nameless, faceless people; clients, customers.

"Guests" hold an honored place. They may be strangers, but they're welcome because they're invited. We invite guests in order to deepen our relationship with them - it's why we have guests in our home or guests in our business - we want to strengthen our relationship. It's what we expect from their visit.

Before we talk about "visitors," we would do well to ask ourselves if that's really all we want them to be.