In my last post, I pointed out that the “C” in C.L.O.S.I.N.G. the Back Door stands for Creating A Welcoming Environment. Creating a welcoming environment involves OPENING the front door of your church in order to increase the number of first-time guests. A church cannot grow without visitors.
The “L” in C.L.O.S.I.N.G. the Back Door stands for Let People Know You Care. You’ve heard it said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care! Here are four practical ways to show people that they matter to you….
- Teach people how to smile. There is power in a smile. A smile not only indicates what’s on the outside, but it often indicates what’s on the inside. Unfortunately, some of the grumpiest people in the world are members of our churches. As a pastor, I sometimes stepped to the microphone and said, “this morning we’re going to practice smiling.” We literally practiced smiling during the service with me leading the way. You can even bring a few people to the platform and make a contest out of it. The benefit is an increased awareness of the importance of friendliness and smiling in the church.
- Be friendly to newcomers. Friendliness goes beyond smiling. Friendliness leads us to invite them into our lives. Friendliness leads us to invite them to lunch or to our homes. For more information on making friends, see How to Build Relationships, Part 1 and How to Build Relationships, Part 2.
- Design a follow-up strategy that says “we care.” It is important what we do BEFORE, DURING, and AFTER a guest visits our church. Plan to follow-up. Send a personal letter or note out on Monday and thank them for their attendance. Follow that with a personal telephone call from the pastor later in the week. I usually called on the Friday after their visit. I thanked them for attending, asked them if they received my letter, asked them if there was any way I could pray for them, and invited them to attend again. You can also throw in a doorstep visit on Sunday afternoon from a deacon or follow-up team member to deliver a small gift and to thank them for attending.
- Improve the quality of the worship service. Sometimes one of the biggest hindrances to a return visit from a guest is the quality of the worship service they attended. See Increasing Assimilation Through Worship for suggestions on improving the worship services of the church.
For more details about CLOSING the Back Door see the entire series: