Skip to comments.Top Ten Ways Churches Drive Away First-time Guests
Posted on 11/11/2014 9:44:11 AM PST by fkabuckeyesrule
If you attend a church regularly, youve probably noticed the phenomenon. A guest shows up for a worship service, but he or she never returns. It is, unfortunately, a common issue in many churches.
I did a Twitter poll to ask these first-time guests why they chose not to return to a particular church. While some of the responses were anticipated, I admit being a bit surprised with some of them.
Though my poll is not scientific, it is nevertheless fascinating. Here are the top ten responses in order of frequency.
1.Having a stand up and greet one another time in the worship service. This response was my greatest surprise for two reasons. First, I was surprised how much guests are really uncomfortable during this time. Second, I was really surprised that it was the most frequent response.
2.Unfriendly church members. This response was anticipated. But the surprise was the number of respondents who included non-genuine friendliness in their answers. In other words, the guests perceived some of the church members were faking it.
3.Unsafe and unclean childrens area. This response generated the greatest emotional reactions. If your church does not give a high priority to children, dont expect young families to attend.>P>
4.No place to get information. If your church does not have a clear and obvious place to get information, you probably have lowered the chances of a return visit by half. There should also be someone to greet and assist guests at that information center as well.
5.Bad church website. Most of the church guests went to the church website before they attended a worship service. Even if they attended the service after visiting a bad website, they attended with a prejudicial perspective. The two indispensable items guests want on a website are address and times of service. Its just that basic.
6.Poor signage. If you have been attending a church for a few weeks, you forget all about the signage. You dont need it any more. But guests do. And they are frustrated when its not there.
7.Insider church language. Most of the respondents were not referring to theological language as much as language that only the members know. My favorite example was: The WMU will meet in the CLC in the room where the GAs usually meet.
8.Boring or bad service. My surprise was not the presence of this item. The surprise was that it was not ranked higher.
9.Members telling guests that they were in their seat or pew. Yes, this obviously still takes place in some churches.
10.Dirty facilities. Some of the comments: Didnt look like it had been cleaned in a week. No trash cans anywhere. Restrooms were worse than a bad truck stop. Pews had more stains than a Tide commercial.
There you have it. The top ten reasons first-time guests said they did not return to a church. I cant wait to hear from you readers. You always have such good additions and insights.
I confess. I did not expect to write an article that engendered such strong emotions. But now nearly 600,000 people have viewed the article, and hundreds have commented.
The article to which I refer was about the simple issue of what churches do that drives first-time guests away. The most discussed issue was that which is typically called the stand and greet time.
A lot of people dont like this time in many churches worship services. A lot of people really dont like it.
So I decided to conclude the series with representative comments from those who said, in no uncertain terms, not to continue this exercise in your church. This sentiment was particularly strong among those who are actively visiting churches now.
Here are some of the comments:
The meet and greet or the sign of peace or whatever your denomination may call it, its all the same a personal, psycho-contrived exercise that is not only too MUCH, but too SOON.
As a shy introvert, a stand up meet and greet sounds terrifying. Please let me attend the service without having to do this. I can meet people afterwards if Id like.
As a visitor to a new church, I cant honestly say Ive NEVER enjoyed, or seen the point, in a meet and great period. First of all, Im an introvert and having a bunch of strangers come up to me all at once expecting to shake my hand and get my name and ask whether Ive been there before and so on doesnt feel friendly and inviting, it feels forced and uncomfortable and overwhelming.
This is actually the reason my wife and I left a church and didnt come back. I have crazy allergies certain times of the year, and I adjust by sitting in the back so if I have a crazy sneezing fit or something I can duck out quietly, use the restroom, and make my way back in without disturbing other people in the service. Well I did that at a new church, and they didnt want to let me back in. I wouldve just walked out, except my wife was still in the service.
Sometimes Ive been late on purpose to avoid the forced friendliness and physical contact with strangers especially during cold and flu season.
Ditch greet time; just get on with the service.
Its not that I dont want to participate in a meaningless, obligatory greeting; its just that I dont want to participate in a meaningless and obligatory greeting.
As an introverted first time guest, this moment can be extremely stressfuleven if everyone you meet is very friendly and sincere.
Many times we have stood in a church, where it is obvious that we are the only visitors present, and had no one greet us. It is a bit like crashing a family reunion at that point.
Im nowhere near an introvert but the most awkward part of the service for me is the greet your neighbors . . . one church we attended had a 5 good minutes of meeting those sitting around you . . . our family who was very new to the church called it 5 awkward minutes. I just dont understand how shaking a strangers hand makes for community?! Honestly Id rather not!
To this day I continue to dread the mid-service stand up and greet the person next to you time. Im guessing extroverts and old-timers just dont get how unhelpful of a practice it is.
Ive gotten up and walked out of churches that do the lets meet the visitors thing.
I am not one to feel comfortable in the spotlight and literally everyone in the congregation smelled new blood and cornered me before I could make an exit.
Yes, the feelings are strong, Very strong. Do these comments affect how you feel about this time in church worship services?
Yeah, I agree. When I go to church and they do that hand shaking business, people will put on a fake smile and either shake your hand or turn the other way. It’s always awkward and I’d wish they’d just skip it.
Why was he surprised by #1? It’s so obvious that many first timers would find forced meet-and-greets uncomfortable.
I am an usher in my Catholic church.
Stand-and-greet is a formal part of the Mass, just before the final part of the Eucharistic Prayer is said. So I guess it’s impossible to come to a Catholic church if you’re not comfortable with that.
A lady who attends our church confided in me why she quit attending another one several miles away. She has several health problems and is struggling financially. When they passed the basket she had nothing to put in. The usher gave her a dirty look. And then some child sitting behind her said “Did you see that, Daddy? That lady did not put any money in the basket.” When they passed it again the father chimed in with some comment like “Yes, Junior, I see the cheapskate”.
Obviously humiliated, she never went back.
The artificial, induced “greetings” are a turn off. What choice does anyone have, whether they mean it or not?
Sounds like a marketing study, which has no place in a Church of Jesus Christ.
The interesting thing is, the churches that are growing - which are mostly the non denominational churches - be they seeker churches, Apostle churches, charismatic churches, etc - ALL DO item number one.
I’ve NEVER liked it. Doesn’t keep me from church, but it’s a fabricated attempt to act friendly.
I’ve had people be mean but never like that. It’s none of their business what she gives or does not give in the collection plate. It’s between her and God.
I have to admit, I am surprised this was a big reason. Our church is growing, and we have believed that this meet and greet was part of the reason for the success. Folks seem to genuinely enjoy it.
We will have to ponder it, now.
I’ve gone to church all of my life. I still don’t like the “meet and greet” time we baptists do. I can only imagine how visitors feel about it.
I always liked the meet and greet moment if I’m seated near a bunch of hot women.
Our church went on a visit to an AME Church. The basket came by and I was about to put a $20 bill in it. The elderly Black women next to me whispered to me:
"Don't put it all in at once dear, it'll be coming around a few more times."
I then pulled out a fiver and she said: "That's better."
I would add sermons based on liberal ideology, such as global warming.
I couldn’t get to the door fast enough.
I usually sit at the end of the pew and when it comes time for the sign of peace, I get out and walk up and then down the aisle and shake people’s hands, and put my hand on toddlers and babies heads and bless them. I also mention the holiday (holy day) or national observance, too. If I am by the choir, I will shake the music ministers hand too, and give compliments.
I am considered an introvert, but Jesus said we need to mass, come together as a group, so at Mass, I go into the group and make a personal connection that includes eye contact, a warm word and a smile.
Lol reminds me of an incident a few years back at a church I attended; at the Christmas Eve service (began about 5 PM) two churchgoers GOT INTO A FISTFIGHT OVER A PARKING SPOT! The pastor wasn’t amused.
Worship according to God’s Word, the Bible, any other kind of man-invented worship is offensive to God.
Just so happens that worshipping God Biblically avoids all these problems.
Next time you run into that you should suggest a Widow’s Mite which was actually the smallest coin at the time. Encourage the next person to drop in a few pennies.
Or if you live in the vast Tucson diocese, like I do, where some preach help for illegal crossers from the pulpit and in their activist brochures, you pretend those churches exist, never return and recommend them to no one.
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