Imagine the worst church experience you have ever had.
Perhaps you can relate. I walked in wondering if anyone had ever visited this church.
I do not believe we should have a critical attitude towards churches. Churches get enough criticism as it is.
But churches should regularly evaluate themselves. Unfortunately I struggled to worship that Sunday because this unfriendly church struck me as hostile to anyone from the outside.
As you look at the list below describing the DNA of an unfriendly church, try to identify one area that your church could work on. After all, the perfect church will never exist. However, I hope no one will ever describe your church as an unfriendly church.
1) No Guest Information on the Website
When looking at going to a new church, what’s the first thing you do? If you’re like me you check it out online. Outside of an address, they provided no further information for guests. Nothing with directions from main roads in town, nothing about parking, nothing about what to expect at all. This in itself does not make an unfriendly church, but it sure can contribute.
2) No Guest Parking
Speaking of parking…we found a very small parking lot at this church. It was mostly full, but there were still places to park, however they were all the way in the back. Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal to me, but considering all of the other ways this church was so brutally unwelcoming, this was the icing on the cake.
3) Untrained Greeters
Coming to a new church is intimidating, you don’t know what to expect. The first person you interact with is vital. We were handed a bulletin and told to go into the first set of doors. There was no “So nice to have you this morning.” or “Thank you for joining us, welcome!” In fact, the greeter was having a conversation with someone else while half heartedly greeting us.
4) Weird Looks
Upon entering the sanctuary instead of being greeted with smiles and welcoming faces we got 1 of 2 things, no acknowledgement, or “weird” looks. It felt as if we were outsiders and people were looking at us as if we didn’t belong there. We felt like we were strange new animals in a zoo that no one really wanted there.
5) We Were Ignored
No one talked to us. No one. Not even a passing hello. We were completely ignored. We thought surely we aren’t going to go this whole visit without one person even saying hello to us.
After the service was over we waited to see if anyone would come over to where we were sitting and say hello. This wasn’t a big church. It would have been impossible not to know we were there. We were wrong, still no one talked to us, even the people siting directly next to us immediately started in conversation amongst themselves. Ignoring the new comers.
This particular church was very cliquey, which is common in many churches. groups of friends gathered. Don’t get me wrong, groups of friends gathering isn’t necessarily bad. We just need to be careful how we are being perceived to those visiting. In this situation it would have been incredibly uncomfortable to join a group of people talking. We simply didn’t belong.
7) Guests Were Not Acknowledged During The Service
Several churches I have been to mention guests from the front of church. Just a simple greeting and welcome. Telling them that they are appreciated and that someone from the church would love to connect with them. Not here though. We, as guests, did not feel valued.
8) No Follow-Up with Visitors at this Unfriendly Church
When we left no one followed up with us, no one told us they would love to see us back the next week. This isn’t surprising considering no body talked to us while we were there. It is so important to follow up with visitors and welcome them back. The church will never grow if we don’t let our guests know they are important to us, and that we want them to come again.
What is the one area you believe most churches need to work on in order to become a more friendly church?
The Malphurs Group offers a Sunday Secret Shopper Visit to improve your church hospitality and outside ministry navigators (otherwise known as Church Consultants) to walk your church through the strategic growth process. These services can ignite tremendous growth in your church and reinvigorate your ministry. Please contact us if you’d like to learn more.
Brad Bridges is the Vice President of the Malphurs Group, a leadership coach, strategy consultant, blogger at malphursgroup.com and bradbridges.net, husband to Lindsey, and father of 3. | @bradbridges | Website