I recently read about ten ways to ensure guest DON’T return to our church, (written in the first person):
- Offer no easy way to plug in to community: Don’t tell me about small groups. Make me wait forever to plug in, or make me do extensive work to even figure out what kind of groups you offer.
- Don’t welcome me in the parking lot: Just do your job, don’t speak to me as I walk in, and offer a bit of an “it-is-early-on-a-Sunday-morning” scowl.
- Don’t acknowledge I’m in the service: Give no head nod to “first timers,” “guests,” or “folks just checking us out.” In fact, just speak to the inner core, the “members.”
- Acknowledge me too much: Call me out and have me stand up. Ask me to publicly share my name and darkest secrets.
- Don’t give much thought or care to your kids’ ministry: People don’t care if their children are safe, watched after, and learn the Bible. Nope. Let them run amuck.
- Pass the offering plate twice: Or three times, and shame me into giving you money.
- Don’t share the gospel or challenge me spiritually: Because that’s not why people come to church, is it to be stretched to grow spiritually, is it? Oh, wait, maybe that’s one of the main reasons they show up.
- Ask me to give my e-mail address, then spam me: Overwhelm me, starting on Monday morning, with news from every single ministry your church has ever offered.
- Visit me at home: Show up during dinner time, if you can, or while I’m trying to put my son to bed. That would be ideal, please. Our generation loves the random church-member pop-in when we aren’t even sure we like your church.
- Pastor, disappear as soon as you finish preaching: Go back to the greenroom, or Starbucks. But don’t position yourself in the hallway. You are a diva, after all.
If you want visitors to return, be warm and inviting. Challenge people to grow. Offer various opportunities to plug in and serve. Then get out of the way and give people the chance to explore.