In the past 4 months, I’ve visited 15 churches across our ABNWT District. We do something called “Secret Shopper”. As unspiritual as that sounds, it provides the leadership with an objective eye on what a Sunday experience looks like and the feedback has been quite positive.
The one thing that has stood out time and time again is a very quick and easy “tweak” any church can do. It’s earth-shattering. Are you ready?
Yes. I said it. You are not nearly as welcoming as you think you are. Every one of the 15 churches has not been as welcoming as I would have liked them to be.
Now there are all sorts of excuses you can give me and all sorts of reasons why you don’t think you should be as welcoming. But I am telling you, churches that have heard this feedback and have gotten a hold of this, have already seen growth.
People are already coming to your church and what they are looking for is a sense of belonging; do they want me here? And the overwhelming answer should be YES. So here are some things you can do starting this Sunday that won’t cost you anything.
Have your friendliest people in the lobby greeting. Don’t put grumpy church people on your greeting team. Find the people in your church that can talk to anyone and set them to do that. Have them linger in the lobby for 20 minutes after service as started to catch latecomers
Identify new people and make sure you connect with them after the service. You can tell they’re new. They look shy. Their eyes dart back and forth. If you don’t know if they are new, ask them. “Is this your first time?” If they say yes, then make sure you keep them connecting. Introduce them to other people. Make sure you ask them, “is there any way we can connect with you this week?” or “is there anything we as a church can serve you this week?”. Keep them talking by asking them questions about themselves.
Address newcomers in the service as much as you can. Don’t assume people know what is happening. If you call children forward during the service, explain yourself and tell me what I can do if I don’t want to let my child go to the front. If you take up an offering, tell me if I have to give or not. If you have a prayer time, tell me what to do. Assume that there are new people in your church and make sure you help them understand what is happening.
Develop a follow-up plan. Make sure you have a way of connecting people past their Sunday experience. They may not want to give you their information and that’s ok. But if they do, then make sure you follow up with them.
Please don’t gloss over this. Take a good, hard look at your church and ask yourself, “how friendly are we?” Making the necessary changes will make a big difference.