How you speak to guests can make a huge difference in how they experience your church during their first visit. Chances are, they’re unsure of what they’ll find when they walk through the doors of your church. How you communicate with them can either lower their defenses and help them enjoy their time at your church, or it can raise some walls and keep them from being remotely open to what God might have in store for them. Does your language and culture make them feel like an honored guest or like an awkward third wheel left out of an hourlong set of inside jokes?
Use everyday language to describe everyday things
When you go to a baseball game and get a little booklet that includes information about the home team and that particular day’s game, it’s called a program, not a bulletin. Use language that your guests will be familiar with. It’s not that you can’t use creative branding that enhances your church’s atmosphere; just don’t use cute names that can only be deciphered by long-time members.
Use clear signage
When a family of five pours out of their minivan when they first visit your church, chances are they want to know two things: Where’s the bathroom (because their kindergartener is about to explode), and where they can check their kids in. Make sure they can find their way without any confusion.
Introduce yourself…every week
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been the pastor for three weeks or three decades; there are people visiting your church this Sunday who have no idea who you are. The same goes for anyone else leading on Sundays, including the main worship leader and whoever is giving the announcements.
Announcements aren’t the same as a family meeting
Verbal announcements can be especially painful if you’re a first-time guest when they include mostly events you haven’t been invited to organized by people who haven’t bothered to introduce themselves to you. Use the announcement time to thank visitors for attending and for pointing the congregation to a single, important next step (that anyone can be a part of).
Who’s Paul, anyway?
Don’t assume that everyone is on the same page when it comes to the Bible. Every week, quickly explain the context of any Scripture you are using and introduce the human author. You likely have a guest listening who’s never been to church and has never read the Bible.
I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below.