I am beginning to add a new book review / recap to our website. This book is also written by Thom Rainer entitled “Becoming a Welcoming Church.” As with the last book I will be adding a chapter a day for us to consider. I am in no way saying our church or your church if you are reading this is not welcoming – just something to think about.
Chapter One – Are We As Welcoming As We Think We Are?
“Many churches need a wake-up call. Many members think their churches are healthier than they are.”
He goes on to ask some questions:
- Are you willing to set aside your preconceived notions about church?
- Are you willing to look at your church more honestly and more clearly?
- Are you willing to do what it takes to be a welcoming, gospel-centered church?
Paul wrote to the church at Rome in Romans 12:13 …pursue hospitality.” Paul told Timothy that the leaders in a church must be hospitable.
He captions one paragraph with these words “The Myth Of The Welcoming Church.” Churches perceive they are friendly because the members are friendly to each other. They do not look at their facilities, their parking, their website, or their friendliness from a guest perspective.
He lists several reasons why people did not return to a particular church. Here are their reasons:
- The stand and greet time in the worship service was awkward and unfriendly. (A good reason not to do it – Larry’s comment). Either they were totally ignored, or inundated with what they perceived were superficial greetings.
- Unfriendly church members. The church members usually retreat to the comfort of the holy huddles of the people they know.
- Unsafe and unclean children’s areas.
- No place to get information on the church. There was no central welcome point for them to connect.
- Bad church website. (I like ours any ideas we can utilize to keep it current are welcome). The church website is now the front door of the church.
- Poor signage.
- Insider church language. Are members saying things first time guests would understand?
- Boring or bad church services.
- Members telling guests they were in the wrong pew. (I hope I never hear that one).
- Dirty facilities. One comment “Restrooms were worse than a truck stop.”
To The Happy Guests
- Someone asked the guest to sit with her.
- People introduced themselves to the guest,
- There was clear signage.
- There was a clearly marked ‘Welcome center.”
- The kids loved the children’s area.
- The children’s area was secure and sanitary.
- Guest parking was clearly visible.
- The church doesn’t have a “stand and greet” time.
- The members were not pushy.
- The guest card was simple to complete.
He then add points to ponder:
- Why would guests and church members have such varied views about the friendliness of a church?
- When is the last time you spoke with a guest about his or her first time visit to the church?
- Look at your church website from a guest perspective. Be brutally honest what do you see? Is it guest friendly?
- Do you think members in your church regularly invite guests? Why or why not?
- How do you think a guest feels in your worship service? Explain with a bit of detail.