A few years ago, I pulled up in front of a “Babies-R-Us” store. My wife was expecting our first child. It was the first time I had been to this kind of store, since my style runs more toward electronics stores, and sporting goods. As I turned into an aisle to find a parking space, I noticed that the spaces closest to the entrance ones had a pink sign that said, “Reserved For Expectant Mothers.” Cool.
I felt welcomed, expected, valued. I felt like they were glad I was there, and wanted me to come back. I knew they wanted my money. But when they were looking out for me, there was an emotional connection. It made me less suspicious of their efforts to sell me small pink things.
They had thought about me long before I got there.
I recently chatted with a man who came to our church as a guest. He said his family had been searching for a church for several weeks, and he mentioned one that was closer to their house than ours. They entered the main entrance, a few minutes late.
No one was there to greet them. Several people heard them come into the foyer. He knew, because they craned their necks around to look at this new family. But no one came back to invite them in. No one helped them find a seat (though I imagine there were probably plenty). “It felt really awkward,” he explained. “Like they didn’t expect us to come at all.” So they just turned around and walked back out.
Was that your church? No. But does your church have a mindset that leaves you unready to welcome guests?
4 Ways your Mindset About Guests Needs to Change:
1. Realize you’re not as friendly as you think you are.
Thom Rainer has done some great work writing on this topic.
“We are the friendliest church in town.” I have heard that statement thousands of times. I promise. In over 500 church consultations and thousands of church member interviews, I heard it. Most church members really do think their church is very friendly. -Thom Rainer
Lifeway’s surveys of church guests over a 10-year period indicate that 80% of guests did NOT think the church they visited was friendly. They also discovered that guests will not tell you your church isn’t friendly… they’ll just leave!
2. Consider how guests feel when they walk in.
Being a guest in a strange place is stressful. When you walk into your church this Sunday, your pulse will probably not quicken from anxiety, your pupils will not be dialated, and you will not be asking the questions every guest is asking:
- Is there anyone here like me?
- Does anyone here like me?
- Do they need me here?
But those things probably will happen to your guests. So you need to prepare your mindset by thinking:
- How can we alleviate their fears?
- How can we show hospitality?
- How can we relate to them?
3. Re-think how important guests are.
Here’s a quote you should share with your church:
Some stats on the importance of attracting and retaining guests:
- Growing churches average 4-5% of their attendance as guests, (counting 1st, 2nd and 3rd timers as guests.)
- Growing Churches retain an average of 21% of their guests. Non-growing churches retain 9% or less.
- Most churches have an average annual loss rate of 5-8% due to transfer, death, dropout’
- 80% of people who leave do it in the first year. (Source: Engaging Church Seminar)
4. Don’t assume people leave because they aren’t spiritual.
A lot of churches hyperspiritualize it. They seem to think that if people “really want Jesus,” then they will just kind of show up and stay through anything. Don’t get me wrong — I agree that when God is present and a soul is hungry for Him, they will seek and find him. But what determines if they do it at YOUR CHURCH?
Really, truly spiritually hungry people could come to your church — and if they don’t feel love & hospitality, conclude you don’t have what they’re hungry for!
Want to know more?
Sign up for my free webinar “7 Steps to Build a Killer Guest Follow-up System — Before Christmas!”
One of the things most frustrating to pastors is how to find time to follow-up on guests without people falling through the cracks. In this webinar, you’ll learn:
- how my failure in a key outreach event changed our guest followup forever.
- how to effectively collect info from first time guests
- how to consistently stay in touch with people
- tips for convincing your congregation to start a guest followup system
- how to help people see your church as friendly
- how to do all this without increasing your work load
Don’t miss this special 90-minute training event! 3 different time slots to fit your schedule! Sign up today!