Most people think of church hospitality occurring on Sunday mornings. But what if I told you church hospitality could extend even further using these seven guest experience tips to show church hospitality outside of Sunday morning? Yes, it does sound a little different…and I get that. But hear me out.
Some churches place overly joyful and smiley greeters at the door and point people enthusiastically towards open parking spaces. Some appoint a hospitality crew to roam the auditorium and interact with guests. And I see why they do those things, but this article addresses something different.
Our actions outside of Sunday show our commitment to serve church guests with love. Sometimes they show our love even more than Sunday mornings do. (I’d argue this often times proves true for many churches.)
To what degree do you intentionally love people who haven’t even stepped a foot in your church? This question rarely gets addressed.
But first, let’s be clear. Our goal isn’t to create the most “attractional” model possible for church growth. And it isn’t to trick or market people into your church.
The focus is, however, on serving those far from God or far from the church. Do they matter to your church? If so, we have to think about them before they arrive at your doors. We have to address the obstacles they face to hear your sermons, sing your songs, and generally join your church when it meets on Sundays (or any other time). Take a look at these tips below and see what you think.
7 Guests Experience Tips to Show Church Hospitality Outside of Sunday Morning
1) Clean Up The Parking Lot
People drive by your church building every day. They already have an opinion of your church. What do you think it is? What do they see when they pass your building merely look at the exterior?
I recently did a Sunday Secret Shopper visit for a church in Wisconsin. A few hours after their service, I drove back by the church building. The parking lot had weeds growing in it, someone had left some trash laying around, and the place was deserted. It wasn’t a place you would want to visit.
I looked for information about service times — not there. I looked for guest parking — not there. I did find multiple items in the parking lot that made the church “feel” unwelcoming. Not a good option when wanting to welcome guests.
2) Take Care of Your Building’s Exterior
When is the last time you painted your building? Are there spots where the paint has faded? Any safety concerns on the external structure of your building? What about the doors? I hope they get locked routinely by someone.
The exterior of the building sends a message about whether we care about our guests or not. One easy way to figure this out as a guest is to look for signs pointing you where to go with kids, where to go for the worship service, and where to go for information.
One word of caution: you can have a polished exterior and be a dying church. Quality facilities don’t guarantee spiritual vitality. They can dissuade a guest from visiting or returning. I’m not saying that they should, but it isn’t the responsibility of the guest to be holy. It is the responsibility of the church to remove obstacles from those who may decide not to consider church and/or God.
3) Post Information About Your Current Sermon Series
While visiting the church above, I looked and looked and couldn’t find any information about their sermon series on the door, on a sign, on their social media sites, nor on their website.
Give people an idea what they will hear this week and, even better, in a few weeks if they chose to visit. This information can go on the window of a door, on a digital sign, on your church Facebook page, and/or on your website. This takes very little effort and helps your guests imagine themselves at your church and know what to expect.
4) Put Your Website Address on a Visible Sign
Is it easy to find your church’s website? If not, why not? When someone drives by your church, do they see your website? What about if they stop by and look at the front door?
When it comes to the front door of the church these days, you could easily argue that the front door is Google.com (see the point below). Even if they don’t know your website, it should be easy to find online. I’d argue a vast majority of individuals will google your church or “churches nearby” when looking at where to attend. Make sure your website is easily accessible and visible.
5) Claim Your Google Place Listing
I looked up two churches the other day by search “church + zip code” and neither of the churches showed up. This is an easy fix, and will make your existence and location easy to find.
Get on google and claim your “Google Place” listing. Doing so allows the people who live closest to your church to find you. Let’s hope these people are a priority for you and your church. After you setup your listing (which is free by the way), test it and ensure that you show up near the top of the listings for your zip code. If you don’t, contact us to find out how.
6) Invite People Into Your Meetings
When small groups or others have meetings in public places, please don’t treat non-members like a nuisance. Your meeting agenda takes second chair to a person curious about why you are meeting or who stops to say hello to a friend in your group.
When these people say hello to your group, invite them into the circle even if you have to move around or throw out your agenda. Doing so demonstrates the loving, welcoming nature of your church and Christianity as a whole. If your meeting is too important to interrupt, it should probably occur in a more private location anyways.
7) Prioritize Church Guests On Your Website
Your website is a great opportunity to address multiple obstacles guests have to attending your church. Make church hospitality a priority on your website.
Some ways to do this are including information for parents, information about your services, present the sermon series, and include a clear bio of the lead pastor and the history of the church. Some churches now allow guests to check-in online, which will reduce their “car to pew/chair” time.
Imagine what questions a first-time visitor or first-time church-goer would ask. What questions do individuals calling the church generally ask? Present those questions in an FAQ, so visitors know what to expect or feel better prepared.
Which of these seven guest experience tips to show hospitality outside of Sunday morning will you work on this week? Pick at least one area and make some changes now.