I read recently that most first time guests at a church will decide within the first 10 minutes if they will come back to that church a second time. People visit a church for the first time for all kinds of reasons. They may have seen activity at the church that piqued their curiosity. They may have seen something posted on Facebook or some other form of marketing. For many people, it was a personal invitation that helped them to take that step.
But regardless of why they visited the first time, there seems to be a consistent reason they do, or do not, return. That decision, researchers tell us, is made in the first 10 minutes. What was their experience like in the parking lot? Were they greeted at the door with a welcome and a warm smile? What was the hospitality like? Were they warmly welcomed by the congregation? Did anyone talk to them? I certainly believe that engaging music and relevant preaching play an important part. But what often opens the door for guests to receive the worship experience is how they were put at ease when they arrived.
I imagine that many of us who have been long time church goers have forgotten what it was like to be an unchurched seeker walking through the doors of a church for the first time. When you have never been to church, it can be uncomfortable, intimidating or even down right scary. How we greet and welcome guests can make all the difference. If we are able to help them feel comfortable in this unfamiliar setting, they are much better able to engage in the worship and hear the gospel.
At all of our worship services we have two levels of hospitality; formal and informal. We have a formal hospitality team that includes greeters, ushers, coffee servants, and the likes. If you are looking for a place of ministry, this is an awesome way to get involved. Speak with one of our pastors to find out how to get connected. Informal hospitality happens as every one of us welcomes guests. The truth is, we are all on the hospitality team. It's up to every one of us to help our guests feel loved, welcomed and at home.
The way we ALL welcome people can make the difference for a first time guest. Let's do our best to intentionally greet, welcome and converse with those who are newer to our church. It could make all the difference in their experience and it may be the first step in helping them come to know Christ. Remember, everyone needs Jesus.
Before I sign off, here are a few upcoming things to remember:
- Men's retreat. Guys, if you haven't registered, there is still time.
- Faith and Family Night at the FisherCats. We've purchased a block of tickets so we can attend together as a church family. Tickets will be on sale at all campuses this Sunday.
- Summer Day Camp. July 14-18 at our Plaistow Campus. Sign up your kids, tell your friends!
- Rock Run Raiser. I've already signed up and started training. Who's with me!
Have a great day. I look forward to seeing you all in worship this Sunday as we finish up our series on Biblical Life Hacks.