Are Visitors Really Welcome at your Church?

Being so far away from family has become a way of life for us. It’s been hard not having family to watch the kids when my wife and I want to get away, or when sickness comes to relatives. But we chose to do what God wanted us to do. Through our move, we chose God over family. Hard choice.

I haven’t seen my only sister (who lives in Northern Ontario) for almost a decade and my only brother for 2 or 3 years. He lives closer to us in Nashville, but we rarely travel that way.

My brother’s son, Barry, is getting married this weekend. The wedding’s in Indianapolis. We figured it would be a great place to see his family and his inlaws — and we’d get to drive as a family to a part of the country that our sons haven’t been to.

Ok, they’re only excited because they get to miss 2 days of school. We answered “yes” to the invite.

As we’ve been traveling the 10 hours from North Carolina (I’m typing while my wife drives), I’ve noticed so many churches along the highway.

Some with crosses, some with huge steeples, some with signs you can barely read. Some have large chainlinked fences around the perimeter.

I often wonder what the unchurched thinks of our buildings. Of our congregations. Of our message.

Then I saw a sign out by the road of one church, “Visitors Welcome”. It seemed so “normal”. Like the invitation we received for the family wedding.

But is it normal? The sign that is.

Do we really need to invite? Has the world gotten to such an alienated state that they don’t think they can walk in to any service? Sad.

My mind wanders to so many different things that confirm my son’s diagnosis of me. Perhaps I am a cynic. Maybe the church is perceived as a closed country club environment that doesn’t seem welcoming at all. Again, sad.

But perhaps the sign is the outward expression of the inward desire. Perhaps a committee in that church was pouring through all the ways to get more people to come to their services. Then someone said, “How will people outside our membership, know that they’re welcome?” Then the idea of a sign seemed obvious.

How is your church inviting the community to see the life inside your building? I hope you’ve thought it through!

Here’s some ideas:

  • Sounds obvious, but is there an easy way for the people who drive by your building (that would be your potential audience) have a way to know when your services are? A sign is the easiest — or a website URL posted is the second best way.
  • 85% of church visitors will check out its website before attending. Be sure that you make it clear they’re welcome!
  • A recent study said that 1 of the top 3 pages on a Church website is the “New to our Church?” page. This page single-handedly says “Visitors Welcome”.
  • Do you have educated, welcoming, friendly greeters at the door? Do you think Disney let’s ANYone be greeters? Sadly, the church uses those who volunteer, rather than the right people.
  • Have a strategy for getting people to come from your community. Try to gain a perspective of how your church is seen in the neighborhoods around it. What do you want to be known for? Love? How have you poured it out on the people within your reach? A sign will never bring someone into a place unless the desire is present.

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