Imagine the worst church experience you have ever had.
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. However, if you’ve ever struggled to worship because a church was unfriendly, you already know how much of a negative impact it can have.
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, nothing about parking, nothing about what to expect at all. This in itself does not make an unfriendly church, but it doesn’t set the right tone.
2) No Guest Parking
Having guest parking is showing a kindness to newcomers. Many times, they’re coming in late and flustered. Having up-front parking for guests shows that you care and that you’re expecting them. The unfriendly church reserves the best parking for the “regulars” and forces guests to park in the back.
3) Untrained Greeters
Coming to a new church is intimidating because you don’t know what to expect. The first person you interact with is vital. Don’t just handed guests a bulletin and tell them to go into the first set of doors. There’s no need for a long conversation, but a simple, “So nice to have you this morning!” or “Thank you for joining us, welcome!” goes a long way. One of the tell-tale signs of an unfriendly church is greeters that are having conversations with someone else while half-heartedly greeting guests.
4) Weird Looks
If upon entering the sanctuary instead of being greeted with smiles and welcoming faces, guests get no acknowledgement or “weird” looks, chances are it’s an unfriendly church. It can feel as if newcomers don’t belong. Guests can feel like they are strange new animals in a zoo that no one really wanted there.
5) Being Ignored
If no one talks to a guest, it’s not a good sign. This isn’t just important before the service. After the service is a great time to speak with and recognize guests. Systems are great, but it’s important to have a culture of friendliness. If even the people siting directly next to a guest ignore them and immediately start in conversation amongst themselves, this is a sign of an unfriendly church.
An unfriendly church is usually very cliquey. 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. It can be incredibly uncomfortable to join a group of people talking.
7) Guests Are 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 in an unfriendly church. This may seem like a small gesture, but you would be surprised at the impact it can make–and the impact it can make if it is skipped.
8) No Follow-Up with Visitors
If no one follows up with guests, this reveals all. Guests are not expected to come, and they aren’t expected to come back. This isn’t surprising considering nobody talked to the guest while they were there. It is so important to follow up with guests 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?
Brad Bridges is a pastor, writer, and former TMG consultant. | Follow Brad on Twitter @bradbridges