I have written rather extensively on first-time church guests at this blog. Even more importantly, I have received hundreds of responses from church leaders, church members, and church guests about this issue. I took the opportunity to look specifically at the comments from first-time guests. After completing this exercise, I was surprised to find that the preferences of these guests can be categorized into six simple groups.
Keep in mind, you are hearing only from the self-identified first-time guests. Each category has one or more direct comments I received. Here are their six simple requests.
- Be genuinely friendly. “I can tell when someone has a genuine smile and a genuine concern for me.” “I don’t like the stand-and-greet time because it seems like many of the members are forced to be friendly.” “I love churches where people are smiling.”
- Don’t put me on the spot. “Don’t ask me to raise my hand.” “Don’t stand up and greet each other while I’m asked to sit down.” “Please don’t ask me to introduce myself before the entire church.”
- Provide clear directions. “Make certain your websites have the church address and the times of worship services on the home page.” “Have clear signage in the parking lot when I enter.” “Please have clear signage once I enter the building.”