“We’ll treat you so many ways you’re bound to like one of them.”
That statement has been said by many a church leader from the pulpits towards those who are new to the congregation. It always gets a few smirks and maybe even a chuckle or two. But, there’s one HUGE problem with it… people don’t want to be treated in more ways than one.
When a visitor comes to a church for the first time, they are looking for something. It may be a new family or somewhere that worships faithfully (cf. John 4:24). It may be somewhere to belong because the last congregation didn’t use their talents and they felt it was time to move to somewhere where they could be effective for Christ. It may be because they have no clue about the church or the Truth and they are simply there because someone is making them go. For whatever reason, they all want one thing, to be treated well.
“Branding” in the business world means that when you walk in one Big-Box-Store it is exactly like the same company’s store on the other side of the country and it goes a long way in ministry as well. Sure, the Bible doesn’t give authorization for multiple locations of a single local church, but if I visit this week and then my friend visits next week, we’re going to compare notes!
So many churches are bipolar when it comes to welcoming visitors. Some are greeted with open arms and shown to their seat and others are allowed to slip in unnoticed and leave without ever having someone extend a hand and genuinely thank them for visiting. But, I believe James said that doing so is sinful, not to mention harmful to the reputation of the local congregation (James 2:1-4).
Here are some helpful ways to make sure that every visitor is treated exactly the same, every time:
- Have your Visitor Packs ready.
- Make sure you train your greeters the importance of the 5 Minute Rule (The 5 Minutes before worship and after worship are the crucial times in making visitors stick)
- Don’t change greeters every single week! (At WSR we have 2 men that make it their responsibility every single week to greet visitors and then, provided I am not running around like a chicken with my head cut off, I make it my responsibility as well)
- Encourage members to welcome visitors with open arms and invite them to sit next to their families.
- Make sure your followup is consistent and not “willy-nilly”.
- And, most important of all, train yourselves and your churches to not see color, clothes, past relationships or any other variable. Every person who walks in the doors is exactly equal and in need of exactly the same treatment.
Let’s stop saying the old adage “We’ll treat you so many ways you’re bound to like one of them.” And start saying, “Every seat has a soul and every soul has sin and ever sin needs salvation.” Then our bipolar treatment of visitors will give way to truly meaningful interactions and repeat visitors!