Most people will visit a church several times before making a decision to call that church home. The challenge lies in the reality that visitors can sneak in and out without anyone even knowing they were there. Someone once said that a visitor will make a decision about a church long before the pastor begins to speak.  If this is true, what is the visitor evaluating in the process?

6 Things a Guest Will Evaluate While Visiting Your Church

1. Way-finding

Finding your way around any new environment can be challenging – particularly if there is not appropriate directional signage. No one likes to feel lost and good way-finding can assure your visitors know exactly where to go when they arrive on campus.

Drive through your campus and look for those pivotal decision points and determine if a directional sign could help a visitor find where to park, drop children off or enter the church building. This is particularly important if the campus has multiple buildings or entrances.

2. Friendly Encounters

Visitors are often taking a step of faith by entering a new church environment. The church can ease this by having friendly and helpful people available to greet them! As a visitor arrives on campus, ask yourself a few questions.

  • Who is the first person they interact with?
  • Is it a friendly parking volunteer, greeter or usher?
  • How welcoming are church members to people they don’t know?
  • Are there people assigned to look for new people and say hello?

This can be tricky because some people like to be recognized as being new and others want to blend in with the crowd while they assess the environment. This is done successfully when there is training for how to be welcoming, yet not intrusive to a guest.

3. Facility

The church should provide a place of solace for members and visitors and everyone likes to enjoy facilities that are aesthetically pleasing. Think about your facility and try to view from an outsider’s perspective.

Take a walk around your campus and ask yourself a few questions:

  • How inviting is the facility?
  • Do the walls have scuff marks on them?
  • Is the facility and furnishings outdated?
  • Is it clean and clutter free?
  • Do the windows have fingerprints on them?
  • Is there debris lying in the flowerbeds or is the landscape meticulously manicured?

All of these subtle observations leave an impression on a visitor and tells a story about the culture and priorities of the organization. If a church offers guests a restroom that has not been updated in decades – it communicates neglect.

4. Is this the right church for me?

Visitors need an easy way to access information about the church. They look for the types of activities and programs that are available. They are thinking things like:

  • What does this church believe?
  • What is this church trying to accomplish – what is their mission?
  • What kinds of programs are there for my kids?
  • What kinds of volunteer opportunities are there for me?
  • What kinds of discipleship options are there for my spiritual growth?
  • What are the steps to becoming a new member?

It is important to make this kind of information easy to access and understand.

5. Communication Process

Good communication does not happen by accident. It is the result of a structured and systematized communication process that predetermines what and when information is shared.

Think about how information is shared and the different avenues for providing that information.

  • Does all information get communicated through announcements, video or the church website?
  • Is the information consistent in every forum?
  • How often is information updated?
  • How much notice do members receive when marketing an upcoming event?

Manage church communication by taking the time to think about who needs to know what kinds of information and when do they need to know it.

6. New Member Expectations

Visitors who decide to become members want to understand what will be expected of them once they make that commitment.  Think through the new member process and be sensitive to putting too much pressure to participate – particularly at the level of long time members. The last thing you want is to scare someone away because they couldn’t fulfill the requirements of being a new member.

Most churches want to grow and include more people to help fulfill their mission.  Taking the time to think through a visitor experience can be one way to help transition a visitor into a committed new member!

About The Author

Patricia Lotich is the founder of Smart Church Management, a site devoted to providing free articles, tools and resources for those managing a church operation. Patricia has ten years of Business Administration and Church Operations experience and has a driving passion to help churches fulfill their call by managing the resources God has given them – people, time and money. Follow Patricia on Twitter and Facebook

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