In the New Year people will visit new churches, try out new ministries and attend prayer meetings. So it is likely that there will be visitors hanging around your church buildings this month and next month. So what do you think the church buildings look like? Now try to think how new people will see them. We need to tidy up the church buildings in the same way that we would clean up our home if we thought visitors were dropping in.
Recently we invited neighbours to come to our place for lunch and we thought we better clean the place up. Looking at our house from the perspective of a visitor I noticed a whole lot of mess piled up on our front porch. For weeks I had walked past it without noticing it but with visitors coming over I paid more attention to the details. Most of the items just needed to be put away so the place looked tidy.
The same is true for your church buildings. Recently I visited a church foyer that was spotless and had clear signage telling me (a visitor) where to go. However I also attended a church where the foyer was a mess, it still had Christmas items laying around in February. Sometimes we need to imagine our church through the eyes of a visitor and here are a few things they will notice:
- Can I find the correct room? It is so important to a first time visitor that they can find the room they are supposed to be in. Try to think like a first time visitor, is it really obvious which door they should enter? If not then you need to have a person or sign directing people where to go. Can parents find the kids ministry room? Can young people find the youth group in the various rooms on your site?
- Where are the toilets? Often people will ask where the toilets are so it isn’t a big deal but if they are really hard to find then put up a sign. Often visitors will go to the toilet before your service because they are nervous about how long the service will take.
- Is the space tidy? A visitor should not have to see decoration failing down or mess from a previous event. Have the musicians kept their area tidy or is it a mess? Is the hospitality area clean? Are the toilets clean? Are there tidy facilities for parents to change a nappy?
- Stay up to date – replace any old posters or out of date event material. Make sure that the bulletins from each week are put in the recycling bin. One church I visited had flyers for a theological college that were five year out of date.
- Less is better – don’t try to fill your foyer or notice board. If a space is too cluttered then the mix of things confuses people and everything blends in. Instead of trying to advertise every ministry event in your district, give clear message to visitors about what you would like them to attend. One church I visited just put up new notice boards and they filled it with at least 50 ministry events across the city to the point that their own ministry events got lost in the noise.
- Where is the coffee? If you go to the effort of putting on tea and coffee make sure that visitors know where to find it. Don’t expect them to follow the crowd; they will most likely avoid the crowd and go to their car.
Every time we have visitors to our house we hope that they love our home as much as we do. The same is true with our church buildings except we want them to love our church not the buildings. Richard Riesling in his book on Church Marketing says that visitors have made many decisions about your church before the service even begins, make sure that they are the right decisions.
markoffaith, Mark of Faith, mark of faith, mrmarkmcdonald, markoffaith.net