Visiting Churches

Reflecting on Church #35: Examine Your Church Practices Through a Visitor’s Eyes

Update Your Church Practices

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.

52 Churches: A Yearlong Journey Encountering God, His Church, and Our Common Faith

It was one of the strangest church practices we encountered.

Apparently, we arrived while the choir was warming up. They finished and nothing happened. Total silence.

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 was it 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. The answer is telling. If few or no people return, you made a bad first impression.

That’s why it’s critical to examine your church practices through the eyes of a visitor.

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.

Then make the needed changes.

[See my reflections about Church #34 and Church #36 or start with Church #1.]

My wife and I visited a different Christian Church every Sunday for a year. This is our story. Get your copy of 52 Churches today, available in ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

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