Recently I visited a church where I had to jump over a few unnecessary hurdles before I finally took my seat in their worship service. Does your church have any of these barriers to visitors?
Ineffective website. Right off the bat, I almost couldn’t find this church’s website – it showed up as the 160th listing on a Google search for local churches (I access a marketing statistic website that tells me such things – how does your church rank?) That’s several pages into the search, and studies show people don’t usually click past the first page of results.
A good website is a VITAL first contact for a potential visitor! I want to get to know the pastor, staff and get a taste of the service. This church’s website had no pictures of the staff, building or auditorium (the only way I could see where I was going was to find the building on Google Street View.) A church logo was non-existent – the website was a plain, generic WordPress page with a Times New Roman font for the name of the church.
The website did had a few podcasts from recent sermons. A blog or welcome by the pastor would also go a long way to helping me feel a connection.
No sign out front. I drove to the church’s location and was surprised to not see a sign. Was I in the right place? I’ve probably driven by the church building 100 times, and since it’s in an old warehouse, I never knew it was a church! I suspected I was in the right place because of all the cars in the adjacent parking lot. Then as I parked my car I saw a sign on the side of the building facing a side road (but no sign BY the road.)
No greeters. I walked into the church and stood in the lobby, spinning around with a blank look on my face as I tried to figure out which door led to the sanctuary. It was like the old game show “Let’s Make a Deal” where you pick one of three mystery doors. Nobody was around to help me find my way, no signs, nothing. A bunch of kids were entering door #1 so I guessed that wasn’t right… then I saw adults going in door #2 so I followed them down a hallway to the sanctuary entrance.
Afer all this I expected to enter a room with 10 people sitting in a circle on folding chairs. To my complete shock I entered a large auditorium that was literally packed with about 500 people and experienced a wonderful service filled with life (500 attendees in a town like Greenville, SC with a church literally on every corner is quite an accomplishment for a young church.) I felt like I was on a treasure hunt! You really have to want to go to this place since they put so many obstacles in your way. If this church had a descriptive website, a sign out front and somebody to welcome you as you walked in the front door, I bet they’d be running 2,000 people by now.
Bottom Line: It’s the little foxes that spoil the vine – don’t do dumb things that put obstacles in the way of people who want to attend your church.