I recently read the an article from David Francis, LifeWay Director of Sunday School. In the article he took a reverse approach to the topic at hand. Instead of talking about ways to make guests feel welcome, he listed ways to make guests feel unwelcome and not return to the church. Of course, we should actually do the opposite of what this article suggests, because we want guests to return. Here’s part one of his article, 10 Ways to Make Guests Feel Unwelcome:
- Make first-time guest parking inconvenient. Welcoming churches have parking spaces close to the main entrance of the building, marked clearly “For First-Time Guests.” Some even have a special team of volunteers whose job is to warmly greet first time guests and give them immediate directions, perhaps even providing a map and marking the parking area on it. You can only imagine the positive impression this makes.
- Use grouchy greeters. A friendly smile and a warm hand-shake at the door go a long way to make guests feel welcome. You could just get rid of greeters altogether, of course, but it is actually more effective to use grouchy greeters. Train them to carry on conversations with other greeters and grunt at people they don’t recognize.
- Forgo a Welcome Center. Even a clearly marked table or desk exclusively for guest information can make a really big positive impression.
- Treat guests like a doctor’s office treats new patients! Ignore the guest for a few minutes. Act like the guest has been there before and knows what to do. Post a lot of signs. And best of all, hand them a clipboard and ask them to fill out some forms!
- Don’t escort guests to their classrooms. Really welcoming churches don’t send people to their classrooms. They escort them. A greeter introduces the guest to a class member and asks him to get to know the guests better and introduce them during the class session. Cut out this step if you want guests to feel unwelcome.
Here’s Part Two of David Francis’ article on making church guests feel unwelcome.