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SoVaNow.com / July 16, 2013How friendly is your church?
If you are like most church-goers, you will immediately answer that you attend a very friendly church. And that is the correct answer. Churches are almost always very friendly towards the people who attend them. The question more pressing, however, is how friendly is the church in its relationship toward guests or visitors?
You might check this out with a quick overview of your church. Do a walk-through of the church, preferably on a Sunday morning. If you could actually take a guest with you, it would be ideal. Try to see everything through the eyes of a guest. You might want to start using the terminology of guest since we treat guests differently from visitors. A visitor to your home is someone who is transient; you do not expect them to stay long. A guest is someone who is welcomed and expected to stay a while.
As you walk into the door, are there people ready to greet you? Better yet, were there people out in the parking lot ready to greet you? Could you find the correct door to enter? With some churches that is quite the task. I once left a church in Richmond in frustration because I could not find the sanctuary. There were no signs and no one offered to help me. In your own tour, look for helpful signs. Are there any? Could you find the nursery, bathrooms, or sanctuary if you did not already attend this church? Is there a central place to find information?
OK, now we are ready for the real clincher in your first visit. Most guests realize the churches have greeters and that people will greet them when they come in. They rate the church on how friendly it is when they walk out! This is when people rush to lunch or meetings or whatever. Do the people in your church or you take the time to introduce yourself to guests and invite them back? That is being friendly.
After they visit, there should be more follow-up. Every first-time guest should be given a call or email thanking them for their attendance and this should be done immediately. If you have a guest center at church, you can give them a gift on Sunday. An often overlooked point is that second-time guests are much more likely to become members and third-time guests are just about in the fold. But many churches ignore the follow-up on these people! If you want to be a friendly church, then you have to monitor their attendance and then let them know you notice and care. Finally, if they then come into the church, you have to make them a part of the church. This sounds like a lot of work but it is only what Jesus told us to do when he said to go into all the world making disciples and baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
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