Is our church one that guess will want to come back to? That is the questions every church leader must answer. If they enjoy the music and the teaching is understandable and they are able to apply it to their lives they may decide to give the church a second look but as important as the music and teaching are, it’s not enough to cause people to stay as part of the fellowship.
Before we look at what will cause people to stay let’s look at some things that drive interested guests away…
1. Having social networks that aren’t open to outsiders. Guests notice if there are lunches, picnics, bible studies & groups that they aren’t invited to. This is especially difficult if there are large families or groups of relatives in the church because it is natural to gather together with relatives and not realized it may perceived as a closed church function.
2. Feeling like their help isn’t needed. When a person wants to be a part of the church by serving and they aren’t allowed to there’s a rejection or feeling that they don’t belong. Beware of controlling people within your church that may be well meaning but would rather do the work themselves than make room for others to help. Also make sure you have good follow up in place for people to be plugged in quickly when they do volunteer.
3. Overcrowding. If over 80% of your chairs are full people will not come back. Rule of thumb, if 70% of you seats are occupied then get out more chairs or add another service. Same principle applies to children’s church, if a parents sees overcrowded classes or nursery they may feel uncomfortable about their child getting enough attention.
4. Confusing service or facilites. People generally say no to whatever is confusing. If they can’t find your sanctuary whey they enter anxiety begins to rise. Good signs for restrooms and children’s wing definately help also. How well do you insruct people what do to or inform them what to expect? A simple announcement of “your kids will be dismissed to children’s church following the song service” can put people at ease. Feeling relaxed allows people to focus on the spiritual aspects of the service.
5. Neglected facilities or grounds. Ever sold a house? You fixed things that never bothered you. Fresh paint for the shutters, trim the bushed and clean the windows make a good first impression. Well, long time church members may walk by the ripped carpet and not notice it anymore but a new guest will. Shabby landscaping or run down lobby says “we don’t care that much” and we probably won’t pay much attention to you either.
6. Inconsistent style. People come to a flamboyant Easter pagent. There’s a 50 person choir with rented robes, a 45 minute cantada with professional quality musicians, rented lights and scenery. They come back two weeks later to one lady playing an accordian in an empty gymnasium. I’m not saying don’t do special events but show people who you really are.
7. Tense or unwelcoming environment. People need to be greated within the first 1-2 minutes they walk in the door by a smiling, friendly, normal person. The facility needs to be decorated in a friendly manner. As far as tension, if there is division, power struggles, or harsh and condemning leadership you can be sure people will run for the exits!
More next time…