If you regularly attend church, and it’s habitually the same church, chances are you find your fellowship to be well, friendly and welcoming.
It’s probably a church you felt instantly at home in when you walked in the door for the first time, ergo, you are a welcoming and friendly church.
If you’re in leadership at your church, have you noticed that many who visit your church never return? Are you convinced the problem is elsewhere? Maybe you blame it on the GenZers. Or think everyone is vacating the church in droves. Maybe you think it’s because you’re not fancy enough, or you don’t have enough programs. You might think you’re not big enough, fancy enough, innovative enough.
But could it be that you’re just not friendly enough?
Now before you scoff at me and call a million fifty poxes on my head, listen. Maybe you’re not. It isn’t programs that hold people. It’s not fancy stages and shows, it’s not lights and sound. It’s not a killer youth group or children’s programs. (Killer…that might not have been the best word to use there.)
The first thing people are looking for when they come to a church for the first time is Jesus. That might be overly simplistic, but think about it. They want Jesus or they wouldn’t be there.
They also are looking for a place to belong, a place they feel loved, accepted, wanted, enjoyed, needed. They want people to genuinely express eagerness to see them and a deep appreciation they are there. They want to be noticed, to be seen.
But when we stand around in holy huddles, chatting with the other regular attenders no one is noticing the visitor. Often no one greets them. No one wants to acknowledge they are there.
Maybe your church is large and has multiple services. And maybe like me, you’ve been embarrassed by greeting someone as a visitor when they’ve been attending for months or even years. (This could even happen if you don’t have multiple services. Don’t ask me how I know this, let’s just say I’m smart, okay?)
But what if it isn’t all of that? What if you’re not quite as friendly and welcoming as you could be?
In Thom Rainer’s newest book, Becoming a Welcoming Church, he talks about this issue. This little volume (just 5.5″ x 7.5″ and only 100 pages) speaks into the friendliness issues confronting our churches and offers some practical tips for repairing first impressions.
He touches on everything from websites (and most are so sadly lacking even the rudimentary information needed) to children’s programs to the meet & greet time. If you’d like to gain a fresh perspective on your church and lead it to become, again, a friendly, welcoming place to worship, please read this book.
I received a free copy of this book from Lifeway.com and B&H Publishers for the purpose of review. I did not have to post a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.