Thom S. Rainer on Is Your Church Pushing Away Visitors?

The research and the post got me in trouble five years ago.

So, why am I re-visiting this issue?

Over the past few weeks, I have been involved in micro consultations. We bring 10 pastors together for one and one-half days of intensive training and practical planning. With four of these micros completed with forty pastors, I still hear how important this issue is.

We want people to visit our churches. We want them to return so they can have multiple opportunities to hear the Gospel and connect with believers. But many do not return. Why? In a social media poll, I heard from over 1,000 persons sharing their experiences of being “one and done.” They visited a church one time but did not return. Five years ago, these were their top reasons. Not much has changed in their responses today.

  • Having a stand up and greet one another time in the worship service. Those who want to debate this issue are longer-term members in the church. They are split almost evenly on their preference. But, among first time guests, the response is an overwhelming 90 percent negative. The stand-and-greet time is for half your members and almost none of your guests.
  • Unfriendly church members. This response was anticipated. But the surprise was the number of respondents who included non-genuine friendliness in their answers. In other words, the guests perceived some of the church members were faking it.
  • Unsafe and unclean children’s area. This response generated the greatest emotional reactions. If your church does not give a high priority to children, don’t expect young families to attend. Since I posted this information five years ago, the safety issue has come to the forefront.
  • No place to get information. If your church does not have a clear and obvious place to get information, you probably have lowered the chances of a return visit by half. There should also be someone to greet and assist guests at that information center as well.
  • Bad church website. Almost all of the church guests went to the church’s website before they attended a worship service. Even if they attended the service after visiting a bad website, they attended with a prejudicial perspective. The two indispensable items guests want on a church’s website are street address and times of service. It’s just that basic.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Thom S. Rainer