We have many good memories from the people who have been in our home over the years. I have two not so-good memories as well.
It is easy to be hospitable and guest-friendly when everything goes the way you expect. Our response to the unexpected is a good measure of how guest-friendly our home is. Our bodies often communicate what our mouths may never speak.
The first memory was when a high school guy spilled a soft drink on our new couch. Normally, our family doesn’t eat or drink on this piece of furniture. Five years later, we still have this rule. We had a gathering for high school students and somehow the drink made it to the family room. When multiple high school students spread out on a couch, a mess is about to happen. It’s a reality of the situation. The spill was cleaned up and nothing was said.
The second memory was a dinner party. Everybody took off their shoes except one person. Calling out that person would have created an awkward meal and so we let it go. Ironically, the person has guests remove shoes when entering his home.
The point is that guests don’t always know the unspoken expectations of our homes. The same principle is true for our churches.
In churches, many unspoken expectations don’t even make sense to our guests. Today, I want to give you three ways to become more guest friendly at your church.
First, have greeters stand at the doors. I’m a big believer in this one. I was part of a church that had 10 entry points to the building and people were missed every week. The staff transitioned down to three entrances with greeters at the door. Many times, we get one chance to make a good first impression. If we meet a family at the door and care them well before they enter the building, there is a better chance they will come back.
Second, take down your “no drink” signs. One of the dangers with these signs is what it communicates. To a guest (and even a millennial), this communicates that your building could be more important than me. If the church engages with the mission of making and growing disciples of Jesus Christ, a cup of coffee in the worship room becomes a small issue. If a guest needs coffee or a fountain drink to comfortably hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then our sign becomes an obstacle to the kingdom work that morning.
Third, change how you communicate events. I hate the “announcement time” of most church services anyway, but this one drives me crazy. So many churches communicate an event and ask people to go see s0-and-so (first name only) to sign up for the event. Every church is capable of making a shift in this area. Most churches have a website, email, some form of connection card and a phone number.
Instead of asking people to go see so-and-so, try shifting to something like “indicate you’re interested and we’ll call you”. You can use a service like FORMSTACK to put a registration form on your website. You can create a designated email address for event inquiries. You can ask people to make a note on a connection card. You can have a designated text number. There are many services to help with this one, but it might be the easiest (and cheapest) to have a staff member add a line to their plan and have the church reimburse the expense. If your church has a smartphone, all of this can be done through the app. I recommend using AWARE3 for a smartphone app that incorporates online giving.
As our world changes, churches need to explore better ways to communicate with everybody. People have less time but more demands. Our mission should always be making and growing disciples of Jesus Christ. One of our objectives should be getting people information as easily as possible.
You are loved!
Written by Chris Peoples. Chris has served churches in Michigan and Indiana since 2000 as youth pastor, executive pastor and interim pastor. He has also been a speaker for camps and retreats since 2006.
Chris has a Bachelor degree in Ministry Leadership from Cornerstone University and a Master’s degree in Pastoral Leadership from Cincinnati Christian University. Look for more articles from Chris at http://chrispeoples.org.