Carey Nieuwhof did a great podcast interview with Greg Atkinson on looking for a church and it is well worth a listen.
This quote really captures my eye:
“What’s surprising to me about the factors Greg outlines is that they’re actually simple hospitality, people, and facility related things.”
The key word there is SIMPLE.
That means fixes are not always expensive, complicated, or impossible.
Welcoming people to church is not all about systems. It’s about the people, or as we say in the church I attend: “People over process.”
And driving people away is not just a single glaring error, but a cumulative impact of lots of little things. Read on for some insight. . . He writes:
It’s hard to believe, but according to people who study these things, first-time guests to your church make up their minds whether they’re coming back or not in the first ten minutes of their visit.
Think about that.
Before they hear the first note of music, before they hear the first word of a sermon or before anyone stands up and says “welcome” in the service, most first-time guests have already made a conscious or subconscious decision about whether they’re coming back.
What might be hanging in the balance is someone’s opportunity to embrace Jesus.
Recently, on Episode 132 of my Leadership Podcast, I had a far-ranging conversation on a guest’s first ten minutes at a church with Greg Atkinson, author of Secrets of a Secret Church Shopper. Listen Here.
In the interview, Greg outlines the factors that determine whether or not a first-time guest is likely to return.
What’s surprising to me about the factors Greg outlines is that they’re actually simple hospitality, people and facility-related things.
Conclusion? Often the barrier to Christ isn’t spiritual—it’s us.
Cary adds additional commentary on:
- Bad church website
- Bad parking
- Bad Greeting – underwhelmed and overwhelmed
- Complicated kid checkin for parents
- Unclear directions and signage
The interview with Greg Atkinson gives many more insights that you can apply in your local context.
I’ve led small churches where hospitality failures spring out of desperation for keeping new folk.
I’ve been in churches where hospitality ministry contributes to their staying around long enough to find faith in Christ.
I’ve seen the first hand impact of a good welcome of church vistors, and the impact of significant hospitality failures that keep people from coming back. It is always good to revisit your hospitality systems regularly.