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Are You Scaring Off First-Time Guests?

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Tim Peters offers a list of three common mistakes churches often make with first-time guests.

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I visited a small, rural church in west Texas a few weeks ago, and there came a place in the service where guests were welcomed. For a brief second, I held my breath thinking, “Surely, they aren’t going to make me stand up and be welcomed.” I thought this because prior to the official “WELCOME OF THE GUESTS” portion of the service, no one had welcomed me in any way. Much to my relief I did not have to stand up, but it made me wonder about the anxiety your first time guests have.

Your guest experience plays a significant role in developing your church brand and church communications strategy. It is critical Church Communications Leaders participate in the shaping of each church experience to ensure the desired brand is being reinforced by experiences. Use the following advice to avoid three common mistakes churches make with guest experiences.

1. The Blind Date Experience

We live in a technology and social media driven society. Today’s church visitors will most certainly check out your church on the Internet before they attend for the first time. Visiting your church shouldn’t be like going on a blind date. Your website and social media pages can do a lot to eliminate this type of experience. Be sure to answer these questions:

Where are you located?
What time should I arrive?
What should I wear?
Where will I take my kids?
What can we all expect?

2. The Invisible Experience

An immediate and warm greeting goes a long way to set your guests at ease. The last thing you want for your guests is for them to feel invisible. There are 5 key places to welcome your guests:

The parking lot
The front door
The welcome or information center
The Worship Center
The Stage

3. The Plastic Experience

Over-greeting your guests is another common mistake churches make. A few meaningful and warm greetings are better than a lot of superficial handshakes. If guests feel like the welcome they receive isn’t genuine, that is the one thing they’ll remember. It won’t matter how great everything else is.  They want to encounter real people, not plastic smiles.