Brad Bridges helps churches think about visitors before they arrive at your doors:
Most people think of church hospitality occurring on Sunday mornings. But what if I told you church hospitality could extend even further using these seven guest experience tips to show church hospitality outside of Sunday morning? Yes, it does sound a little different…and I get that. But hear me out.
Some churches place overly joyful and smiley greeters at the door and point people enthusiastically towards open parking spaces. Some appoint a hospitality crew to roam the auditorium and interact with guests. And I see why they do those things, but this article addresses something different.
Our actions outside of Sunday show our commitment to serve church guests with love. Sometimes they show our love even more than Sunday mornings do. (I’d argue this often times proves true for many churches.)
To what degree do you intentionally love people who haven’t even stepped a foot in your church? This question rarely gets addressed.
But first, let’s be clear. Our goal isn’t to create the most “attractional” model possible for church growth. And it isn’t to trick or market people into your church.
The focus is, however, on serving those far from God or far from the church. Do they matter to your church? If so, we have to think about them before they arrive at your doors. We have to address the obstacles they face to hear your sermons, sing your songs, and generally join your church when it meets on Sundays (or any other time). Take a look at these tips below and see what you think.
1) Clean Up The Parking Lot
People drive by your church building every day. They already have an opinion of your church. What do you think it is? What do they see when they pass your building merely look at the exterior?
I recently did a Sunday Secret Shopper visit for a church in Wisconsin. A few hours after their service, I drove back by the church building. The parking lot had weeds growing in it, someone had left some trash laying around, and the place was deserted. It wasn’t a place you would want to visit.
I looked for information about service times — not there. I looked for guest parking — not there. I did find multiple items in the parking lot that made the church “feel” unwelcoming. Not a good option when wanting to welcome guests.
2) Take Care of Your Building’s Exterior
When is the last time you painted your building? Are there spots where the paint has faded? Any safety concerns on the external structure of your building? What about the doors? I hope they get locked routinely by someone.
The exterior of the building sends a message about whether we care about our guests or not. One easy way to figure this out as a guest is to look for signs pointing you where to go with kids, where to go for the worship service, and where to go for information.
One word of caution: you can have a polished exterior and be a dying church. Quality facilities don’t guarantee spiritual vitality. They can dissuade a guest from visiting or returning. I’m not saying that they should, but it isn’t the responsibility of the guest to be holy. It is the responsibility of the church to remove obstacles from those who may decide not to consider church and/or God.