Most of the time, a guest determines whether they are coming back to our church within 10 minutes of parking in the lot. Some researchers say its three minutes! Wow! Needless to say then that the first impression we make as a church is of vital importance. It could be the difference between someone knowing Jesus or having a Christless eternity. This is one reason why we are moving Shake-n-Howdy to 9:45 AM- at the beginning of our day at church- because a friendly casual atmosphere makes a great first impression!
What do we do when a first time guest comes to church? Here are some do’s and don’ts that I’ve seen written by many others and apply to us.
DO expect new guests… and the implications of that expectation. We are entering into the fall season and typically speaking we get new guests, particularly at the end of September and early October. You should come prepared to meet some new people at church, to introduce yourself to them, offer them help, and answer any questions they might have.
DO respect people. Remember the golden rule. Or better yet, remember the platinum rule- treat others lke Christ has treated you.
DO pray. This is easy to miss. Oftentimes when we get so busy setting up, getting ready to teach, catching up with a friend, that we forget to being God into the equation.
DO thank our guests. It is an honor to have them. Be sure to communicate how grateful you are that they chose to spend their Sunday morning with us. Let them know we have a free gift for them at the Celebration Station table as part of our gratefulness for coming.
DO everything with excellence. Studies have shown that what attracts men to a church is excellence. Men are attracted when things are done with top notch effort. They are more likely to return if they feel the experience is worth their time. It’s not that women do not expect excellence, they do! They are just a bit more forgiving than men. A trait that men can learn from women!
DON’T treat people like “Twice-a-Yearers.” Don’t assume that a guest is with us out of obligation of tradition. What kind of people would you want in a church if you walked through for the first time?
DON’T go on autopilot. Don’t assume the greeters have reached every person that walks through the door. Sometimes they are busy helping someone and are not able to get to everyone. If you see someone alone that you don’t recognize go up and introduce yourself.
DON’T be too friendly. People are quick to realize when someone is being fake. Be genuine.
DON’T put them in the spotlight. Sometimes we get the idea that if we pointed them out in the service we could see who they are and then go say something to them. That might be great for us, but not for the visitor! That’s an extremely intimidating position to put them in. When a person first visits our church we don’t know their story. We don’t their pain, their personality, or their situation. Most of the time, when a guest visits our church they just want to blend in somehow. Plus, if a guest comes and they want to be recognized for coming they are probably a Christian from another church. We don’t exist to get Christians from other churches!
Why is it important to give our guests the 5 star treatment? Simple, it helps them follow Jesus. It helps them relax and be able to experience the worship and respond to the message. I’m looking forward to the new guests God will be sending our way this fall!