It also seems odd to me that some churches have still not realized that simple courtesy and hospitality are so important when it comes to seeing first-time guests return to a church. For several years we have read that guests want to remain anonymous when they visit a church, and yet in the past two months I have attended two churches that asked their guests to stand to be recognized. It was painfully obvious to me that these guests were extremely uncomfortable doing so. In another church I visited virtually no one except the "official" greeters spoke to my wife and me until the pastor came into the sanctuary. In still another church I visited the greeter asked if I needed my own program or if I could use my wife's. I guess paper is in short supply in that church.
These are all small issues, but each of them created an image in my mind of a church that was not one that would inspire me to return. I don't know if these churches do not care about the image they project to guests and potential new members or if they just lack common courtesy. In either case, they are unlikely to attract new people despite their stated desire to do so.
I've talked about this before, but some suggestions still seem to be in order.
- Allow guests to remain anonymous. Do not ask them to introduce themselves, wear a "Visitor's Badge" or do anything else to identify them as guests.
- Teach the membership that everyone is a greeter and is responsible for making people feel comfortable.
- Avoid insider language when making announcements. It reminds them they are not part of the "family."
- Have plenty of signage. Be sure people can easily find child care and restrooms without having to ask.
- Take people where they need to go. Do not point or give directions.
- Greeters should introduce guests to others in the church, especially to persons of a similar age or life situations. For instance, introduce a visiting family with small children to church members with small children.
- Use common sense and exercise common courtesy.