Subtitle: how to turn guests in to one-time visitors
In our church we call new people guests not visitors. To understand the difference, think of your home. A visitor shows up unexpectedly, uninvited and doesn’t stay usually. A guest you’ve invited, you expected them, you’re glad to see them and you want them to stay. You want guests to enjoy themselves and feel welcome.
We prepare at House of Praise for guests. We’re glad they came, we’ve invited them and we want them to feel so welcomed that they want to join the family.
If you want visitors to just visit and leave, here’s what you do as a church member:
- Don’t talk to them. (Remember it’s US and THEM) Look at them awkwardly and quickly walk away. Only talk to people you already know and most importantly, don’t welcome them.
- If you see someone who hasn’t been to church in a while (A Creaster- Christmas and Easter only) point that out to make them feel awkward. Say “Wow, haven’t seen you for a while.” Or even better, “We’d like to see you on more than Easter and Christmas.”
- You wouldn’t think this matters but it does. Make sure we all dress in suits and expensive clothes so guests feel under dressed.
- Let guests find their own way around. (Think “It’s not my job.”) If they do dare to ask where something is, just point in the general direction and say, “that way.” Or something so complicated “Louis & Clark couldn’t find it such as, “Our kid’s ministry is out those back doors, to the left, then another left turn, down a hallway, then turn right, go outside into the other building.”
- Mistreat their kids. Yell at the guest’s kids for something kids normally do like running or taking a 2nd cookie. If you’re volunteering make check in a long and painful process. Help make the kid’s areas dirty, cluttered, & poorly with extras from the Walking Dead at the door. If a baby cries in maim service, immediately kick the family out of the sanctuary. They won’t be back!
- Keep tension in the air. Argue or speak rudely to someone in front of the guest. They won’t know it’s your friend you’ve been feuding with all week. They’ll think we all treat everyone like that.
- Above all, Don’t invite guests back. Don’t speak to them as they leave and don’t follow up on them later in the week to see what they thought
If you will do these simple steps it will keep your church from being filled with new people. More people will give up on church so their lives won’t improve and yes more people will probably also give up on God and go to hell BUT you can keep your church a comfortable size where you know everyone.
Of course, if that’s not important to you…in our church we treat new people like honored guests. We include them in conversations, walk them to where they go, make sure their kids love it, let them know there are NoPerfectPeopleHERE, tell them we are glad they are here and invite them back. If they’re our friends we may even call them next week to see how they’re doing. Why? Because we genuinely care about them improving their lives and their eternity.