All churches think they’re friendly, but when you take a good look at them, you often discover they’re friendly to people who have been attending for 15 years or more—not to new people. A guest’s first 12 minutes dramatically influence whether they’re coming back or not. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Here are some ideas to put guests at ease:
- Reserve your best parking spots for guests.It just shows you’re thinking about them. If you had guests for dinner at your house, you’d probably do whatever it took to make them feel more comfortable. You’d give them your best silverware and your best dishes. You should show the same type of courtesies to guests at your church.
- Station greeters outside your building.You need people strategically placed around your campus to greet guests. Most guests hate to be greeted publicly during the service, but they love to be greeted personally. Set up an information table. Put maps of your campus with restrooms easily marked. Most importantly, have hosts stationed there to help people find their way around.
- Have music playing when people enter.In America, almost every public building has music playing. Even in the elevator, music is playing. You go into a restaurant and music is playing. Why? Because people expect to hear music. If you walked into a church right now and everyone was dead silent when you walked in, you’d probably be uncomfortable. When non-Christians come into your church, they want it to be noisy. They want to hear what’s going on.
- Allow guests to remain anonymous in the service.Please don’t make guests stand up or single them out. The three greatest fears people have are going to a party with strangers, having to speak before a crowd, and being asked personal questions in public. So when we ask our guests to tell us their name and where they are from in front of everyone, we subject them to all three of their greatest fears at one time. Instead, have them fill out a welcome card. Then someone from the church can connect with them later.
- Offer a warm, casual public welcome that relaxes people.If you want to make guests feel welcome, you’ve got to be at ease yourself. Like it or not, how the pastor and the worship leader interact with each other sets the tone for good or for bad in a service. All we’re trying to do is help them relax and then make them feel comfortable.
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.
From: www.pastors.com web site. September 2016.