i was reading about this dude that runs a business (ministry?) where you can hire him to come and be a secret shopper at your church. in other words, we could pay somebody to come and be a visitor at our church and then he would give us a report back on how we fared.
this whole thing raises so many issues, i’m not even going to attempt to give my criticism here. maybe some other time.
anyway, he wrote an article on what he believes (apparently after secretly shopping many churches) we need to do to see a greater return and higher percentage of second and third-time guests. again…i’ll bite my lip and withhold what i’m really thinking right now.
here are the eight things we need do:
one – have an informative website that gives first-timers a realistic look at what to expect when they walk through the doors.
two – have a building that smells good. smell is powerful. as he says, every church has the potential for positive or negative smells. good to know.
three – have visitor parking…up close…so visitors don’t have to walk an uncomfortable distance to get in the building. check.
four – have a simple and easily understood plan for parents to check their kids into the children’s program. parents need good signage.
five – give free stuff away to new people. it seems like visitors to churches really like free stuff. mmmm….
six – have a super safe and secure environment for kids. agreed. this is no joke.
seven – have a highly visible and accessible senior pastor. yeah. that’s what people need. more of me.
eight – have greeters stationed at the door to tell visitors goodbye or have a nice week. or as he explains in the conclusions of his article, “this goes a long way to wrapping a bow around the entire morning experience and will send them off with a lasting positive impression.” maybe we should put a bow around the free gift we give them, too.
in spite of my tempered cynicism, i really do believe that first impressions matter. and some (but not all) of the things he says are no-brainer instructions for how to put on really effective big shows.
but my lasting impression from his article is more of the same for me. it’s the same focus that always seems to pop up in the corporate church experience discussion. apparently, what people are really looking for are tight, well-oiled, professionally run church events and programs.
here’s a simple parenting observation: just because kids want to stay up until midnight, eating snickers bars, and watching youtube…doesn’t mean we should give it to them. no. we give them what they need.
people don’t need events. people need healthy friendships that point them to truth. and they need jesus.
whether they know it…or want it.