Advice to churches

[justin moffatt] Cites some advice to churches: Anyone new feels alone and stupid! I’ve seen the opposite, though, where people who were greeted felt smothered, or over-visited. Clearly it takes some practice to make people feel welcome when they visit a church.

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  1. As a church building consultant, I visit many churches a year as part of my ministry and never feel uncomfortable. However, when my family has relocated, visiting churches has always been a bit stressful.

    When you visit a church for the first time, you often don’t know where to go, where to take the kids, if the church as a service for the kids or they stay with the parents. you have to figure all of this out in a short time span. After those few moments, the majority of churches that we have visited after 2 moves have pretty much ignored us as visitors. Mainly, I think, for the following reasons.
    1) There was no one trained and assigned to look out for visitors and get them properly acclimated;
    2) The church was so large enough that no one recognized us as visitors,
    3) The church had two services, and it was assumed we were from “the other service”.

    Of course there is the obligatory “get up and great someone around you” which I personally believe is a waste of 2-3 minutes of service. Most people say hi to their friends or mouth some platitude that they don’t really feel. I mean if some one were “glad to meet you” don’t you think they would do so before being told to??

    The warmest churches are those where, before the service starts, someone with the gift of hospitality comes over and genuinely welcomes you and introduces themselves. The best of those, will find out something about you and try to arrange an introduction later to similar people. Most of the follow-up we received was a token card or form letter, very few called to thank us for attending.

    In two moves, and many church visits, there were none that made me feel smothered or over-visited,; quite the opposite actually. For churches that want to improve the process, I suggest they start with sending the members of the greeting team to visit other churches to understand what its like to be a visitor, and to see how other churches are doing a good or poor job at follow-up.

  2. Thanks for your comments Steve. Some good insights there: it’s one thing to think about what it would be like to be a newcomer, and quite a different thing to be one.

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