For the past several months, a roadside sign at a church proclaims “Visitors Welcome.” This amuses me. Isn’t that assumed? Doesn’t every church want to grow? I’ve never been to a church that had a “no visitors” policy. Why does this church need to advertise their desire for visitors?
My first thought is that their sign is a poor attempt at marketing. My second is that they may be trying to overcome a negative reputation. Another idea is that they want people to notice their church because the building is set off the road a bit.
Other churches have signs that talk about how friendly they are. They should let their actions speak for them. If they feel a need to claim that they’re friendly, they probably aren’t. Friends once visited a church that maintained, “You will never find a friendlier church.” They didn’t go back. Marketers know not to make such statements; it’s called an “unsubstantiated claim.” I call it lying.
To all these churches: Stop talking about how welcoming and friendly you are. Start acting like it. In doing research for my books, my wife and I visited over eighty churches. None of them said, “You’re not welcome here,” but too many acted that way.
We’ve been to churches where no one talked to us, no one greeted us at the door, no one even smiled or nodded. It’s as if we didn’t exist; we were invisible. Other places had only one or two welcoming folks out of hundreds, but sometimes one nice person is enough to make a difference.
Other churches excelled in their welcome. They greeted us before the service, affirmed us during it, and embraced us afterwards. Sometimes we stuck around for an hour or more after its conclusion because they were such gracious folks who received us so well.
Church is about community. If it wasn’t, we could stay home and worship God in our recliner. Great churches provide a welcoming, friendly atmosphere. They are winsome and inviting. Visitors are welcome – and the church’s actions remove the need to talk about it.
Are visitors truly welcomed at your church? What can you do to make your church more friendly?
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