Yesterday my husband and I got on the subject again of "First Time" Guests. We were discussing two churches and what exactly they were doing differently in this area, and how one was hitting it out of the ball park. In this season we are in, we have had the opportunity to sit in and observe many different churches that we love, and try to figure out what it is they are doing that make them tick so beautifully.
This one church in particular was doing an outstanding job with first time guests, and the other church didn't really know who their first time guests were. I asked myself the difference between the two and this was it.
The church that was hitting it out of the ballpark,
Knew I was there.
Noticed when I was gone.
These two things are so simple, yet completely forgotten by many churches today. Back in the day churches made their first time guests stand up, which is how they were recognized and acknowledged by their congregations during the ole "hand shaking" time. I realize that is outdated, and honestly a bit embarrassing as a guest to stand up or raise a hand just to get a hand shake. So I think churches cut it out altogether to save their first timers from anything uncomfortable.
But I must ask you church...
1. Do you know they are there?
2. Do you notice when they are gone?
Being noticed when you first visit a church gives you a sense of belonging and connection. When I go into a church and never get noticed I feel very disconnected, and the odds of me coming back are slim. I also, like most other people want to feel missed. The church that is hitting it out of the ball park in this area I have only visited once, and it was out of state. But my kids get birthday cards, we get other cards saying we are missed and how much they look forward to seeing us again, and so on. We are noticed and missed by a church out of state, more than we are the few churches we have visited in our own hometown.
But how does the church notice first time guests without embarrassing them, or making them feel weird? There are so many subtle ways to go about doing this but here are a few ways this church in particular was doing it that made us feel so loved.
-Designated parking for guests: they have volunteers ready to meet and greet guests, show them around church, answer questions, and "mark" them.
-"Mark" their guest: they hand their guests a red folder which has information in it to take home. Everyone that volunteers or is a regular at their church notices the red folder, and welcomes those guests. (It took our family a while to figure it out. We were like man, these people are so friendly, and love us! But why? How? Then we realized we had a "mark," the folder.)
-Mail: Mail birthday cards, and miss you letters.
These are just a few things they are doing for their guests. But do you see how they notice they are there, and they notice when they are gone? And this isn't a small, or medium church we are talking about. This is one of the largest churches in America. Just maybe, that's because they know how to value and love people from the moment they pull into their parking lot.
Church, know the people coming, love them, and notice when they are gone.
xo a girl who sleeps with the pastor