With our journey of visiting fifty-two churches over, I can reflect more on the complete experience. Today, I’ll add to my thoughts about Church #35.
We thought we arrived early to this church, but it seemed the service had already started. Everyone was sitting down. People were singing. There were no greeters or ushers. No one said a single word. It felt as though the service was in progress, and we were late.
Apparently, we arrived while the choir was warming up.
Why didn’t someone explain what was happening? Why was everyone else sitting down in stone silence? Why were we ignored?
Squirming in complete quiet for ten minutes was one of our more awkward church experiences. Although things ended well, we certainly had a poor start.
When I walked into this perplexing church situation, my first impulse was flight. This wasn’t the first time I felt like running from an awkward church situation; nor will it likely be the last. Churches – at least those that want to grow – should examine all of their practices through the eyes of a first-time visitor. Then ask these questions:
- What do we do that would confuse or frighten a visitor?
- How and when do we welcome visitors?
- Which of our practices would make a visitor uncomfortable?
- Are we truly doing all we can to grow our church?
Then consider how many visitors come back a second time.
Instead of internally examining these questions, an even better idea is to ask a trusted individual who’s never been to your church to visit it and provide honest feedback.