Tag: church visitor

10 Statements Church Visitors Never Want to Hear

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image credit: CreationSwap user Beaty Bass, edits mine

You’ve been a church visitor at some point, right?

Ever heard something you wish you didn’t hear, right off the bat?

I’ve got a few that nobody really wants to hear. Some I’ve heard personally. Others I’ve heard as they were told to someone else.

10 Statements Church Visitors Never Want to Hear

1. Our pastor isn’t normally this _____.

Insert whatever you want in this blank: loud, obnoxious, offensive, long-winded. If you have to explain part of your pastor’s style because you know that outsiders won’t like it, you’ve got a problem. Talk with your pastor about that.

2. We’re full. Sorry. 

Always have a backup plan. Always. If someone sees that your service is full once, they’ll deal with it. But they probably won’t come back if they don’t see a plan you have in place.

3. What are YOU doing here?

Never say this. Never. Your shocked, open mouth reveals your judgmental spirit…at least in the eyes of visitors. When you say this, all they can think is, “God couldn’t really love someone like you.”

4. You can’t serve now…you’ve got to be a member first.

Why would someone want to become a member if they’ve never had the chance to serve?

5. We don’t believe in serving coffee on Sunday mornings.

If you say this, I can only assume you are leading a church in the pit of Hell.

6. What’s your address? I didn’t catch it on the first 6 forms I had you fill out.

Try to streamline the “first time visitors check-in process.” Nobody likes to feel like they’re visiting HR on their first church visit.

7. You want to join a small group? You’ll have to wait until next Fall.

If you ask people to wait more than a month to join community, they’ll often look elsewhere.

8. Here we just care about the Truth. If you don’t like it, you can leave.

I get it. You love the Bible. You love preaching the Truth. But don’t love that more than you love people.

9. Here are the 38 things we do each week as a church.

Simplifying is the key, otherwise you’ll give people decision paralysis.

10. Next time, could you make sure to wear _____.

Fill that in with “something nicer,” “something more relaxed,” or “something that’s clean,” and you’ve offended someone unnecessarily. Creating a “come as you are” culture should be our aim, not creating a “come as I am” culture.

Got anything you’d add?

 

 

For members only

image credit: CreationSwap user Matt Gruber

By 6:45 am, it was a balmy 92 degrees, the heat causing your clothes to cling to your skin as if in it they’d find relief. Staring out of the window of our air-conditioned vehicle, my Dad, my brother, and I pulled into the parking lot of a golf course that was a bit unkempt. The bushes were a little too bushy. The grass looked like it needed a haircut, and the sand in the bunkers looked like the sandbox of a 3-year-old. (if you don’t know what that kind of sandbox looks like, trust me…it ain’t pretty) The sign needed a paint job, the parking lot a new top coat, and the roof a new…roof.

As we exited the cool car, we walked past 4 spots reserved for the best-of-the best members. One for the club champion, one for the women’s club champion, one for the junior club champion, and one for the guy with the most expensive driver (sorry…made that last one up. There were 4 spots, I just can’t remember who the 4th one was for) As hot as the day had already become, this felt like a kick in the teeth. As I sat on the tailgate putting my shoes on, all I could think was that if I could’ve saved a few steps, I would’ve been grateful.

We dropped our bags outside of the clubhouse, and went in to pay. When we left with our practice range balls, which looked about as beaten up as a golf ball that’s rolled its way into the corner of your garage for a decade, we were confined to only a portion of the range…the right side being for members only. There was a clear demarkation for outsiders, people like us, who were just visiting.

We weren’t allowed to drive our carts on parts of the range either…only members could do that. We had to be sure to stay inside the lines, and not put ourselves in places where we weren’t allowed.

The rest of the day wasn’t so bad. The course layout was decent enough. I played like an old hag, but nonetheless, the course was perfectly acceptable though a bit overgrown. The first 20 minutes we were there, though, left an impression.

We felt like outsiders.

It didn’t matter that the course itself was decent. It didn’t matter that the greens rolled smoothly. It didn’t matter that the head greenskeeper had worked extra hard to rake every bunker or weed-eat the edges of the ponds. It didn’t even matter that the layout was fun. The first 20 minutes left an impression. And we won’t be going back.

Outsiders at Church

Our churches are no different.

When people visit, the music could be above par. The preaching Biblical. The bulletins slick and catchy. The offering plates shined and the lights on queue.

But if you don’t catch people when they hit the parking lot, you may have made an irreversible impression. If they’re not made to feel welcomed when they enter the front doors, you’re stacking the deck against yourself. Focusing on details is great…just don’t miss the forest for the trees.

If guests feel like they’re being given a treatment that’s less special than members, I guarantee they’ll notice. If they’re asked to sit in a certain section, singled out, or in any way made to feel less important than the elite guard that call themselves the church membership, they probably won’t come back. If from the moment they arrive they don’t feel honored and welcomed, you’ve probably lost them. Just like the golf course lost us in the parking lot.

I’m not saying we should do away with church membership. In fact, I’m raising the bar for membership.

Church insiders: go out of your way to give of yourselves and ensure visitors feel welcome. Make sure that there’s no hindrance to the love and beauty of the Gospel but the Gospel itself. Roll out the red carpet, sound the trumpet, and give of yourself until it costs you something so that visitors see the Gospel as loving, grace-filled, and abounding in hope for all men. Shake a hand. Offer a cup of coffee. Hold the door open. Give them the best parking spots. And for crying out loud, smile. Even if it pains you.

And please, please, don’t ever give preferential treatment. Favoritism and faith are incompatible. (James 2:1-13)

Our churches should be the most warm, welcoming, loving, inviting, truth-filled and grace-saturated places on the planet.

Question:

Ever been in a church that gave preferential treatment to its members?

Ever felt ignored as a church visitor? 

 

 

An Open Letter to Church Visitors

Church visitor,

We’re so glad you’re here!  We’re absolutely honored you’d worship with us.  You need to know that we love Jesus.  We’re not perfect, but we’re taking steps of faith regularly.  So it’s okay that you’re not perfect either.  You’re welcomed just as you are, and we want to serve you in any way that we can.

But instead of just waiting for us to make the move to get you more involved, find you a small group, ask you to serve, and tell you about who we are…I give you permission to approach us.  Don’t hang back and expect that we have to make the first move.

Maybe we didn’t see you.  Maybe you just slipped out too quickly.  Maybe we were working to serve someone else.  Maybe we thought someone else had already connected with you.  Maybe we wanted to give you space we thought you needed.

Trust me when I say that we want to serve you.  We want to connect you.  We want you to feel warm and welcomed.  We want to help introduce you to Grace.  And Hope.  And Mercy.  And Forgiveness.

But nowhere else in life do you expect someone to make a friend for you.  You expect that you’ve got a role to play in building a relationship and reach out.  There’s got to be a give-and-take in every relationship.  Right?

We won’t bite.  We’ll actually be happy.  We’re delighted to plug you in.  You make the move.  Don’t wait on us.  Move.

Sincerely,

–Church leaders everywhere

to view the flip side of this, the Church’s response to visitors, see my thoughts HERE.


 

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