Everyone thinks their church is friendly, but that isn’t always the case. It seems, we, as people have a hard time being honest with ourselves. We make excuses, justify, blame, procrastinate, etc, etc. All in the name of not having to really look at who we are. And churches, being a group of people, can do the same thing.
Churches seem to have blinders on when it comes to self evaluation. Let’s be honest, things are the way they are because we like them the way they are. Or we just don’t want to go through the challenges of changing, so we settle for what we have right now. Which is really a way of saying, “I like the now, better, than the what could be.” This mentally comes against any attempt of honest self evaluation. How can one really take a honest look at what is going on, when they want to keep things the way they are or are too afraid to change anything? Here is where the excuses, justification, blaming, procrastination, etc., etc., come into play.
At my church, I am the staff pastor who works closely with our guests. This keeps my open to the level of friendliness that our church really practices. I recently took a fresh look at things and came up with some simple observations that I feel can increase any church’s level of friendliness.
1. Parking – Take a look at where your regular attenders park. Do they take all of the close spots? Most guests will arrive on time for service to start or little late. If all the spots close to your building are taken up, that leaves them to park the furthest away from the building. This does not scream “friendly church.” Encourage your regulars park further away from the building and leave close spots for guests.
2. Sunday school/Adult Discipleship – Take a look at where your regular attenders sit when they are in your adult education classes. Do they take up all the spots in the back and closest to the door? Again, guests will show up on time or late. How uncomfortable to you think it will be for a guest to have to walk all the way to the front of the class and sit by the teacher? They may stay for one time, but I don’t see them coming back. Encourage your regular attenders sit closer to the front and leave the back be open for late comers and guests.
3. Sanctuary/Auditorium – The same seating principle carries over to your sanctuary. Regular attenders like to sit in the back and on the ends. This forces late comers and guests to go up front and try to make their way toward the middle of the rows. Encourage your regulars move up three to four rows and then sit closer to the middle.
4. Church Meals/Activities – Take a look at who your regulars hang out with during church meals and other activities. Do they hang out with their friends and loose sight of those who are new and sitting by themselves? Encourage your regulars to be on the look out for those who are new and sitting by themselves, and to invite them to join in their group.
These are some very simple ways a church can improve its level of friendliness. God wants to send new people our way. It is our responsibility to help them become part of our church family.